Ginza Kunoya Inc., a Japanese clothing textile shop on Chuo-dori Street, has played an important role in the town for over 170 years. Takehiro Kikuchi, the 8th generation owner of the shop, is one of the community leaders promoting revitalization of the neighborhood. He expresses how the community lives together with Wa,the traditional Japan.
Ginza Kunoya started as a thread shop. Today the shop specializes in traditional Japanese accessories, including obi sashes, tabi socks, and furoshiki cloths. Takehiro Kikuchi has helped the long-established family business since his childhood and has called the town of Ginza home for many years. “I learned a way of life from Ginza,” said Kikuchi. He has been involved in several projects collaborating with concepts of Wa. They include “Ginza Wajuku,” or Ginza Wa school and “Made in Ginza Project,” promoting original Wa items of Ginza’s shops.
During the Edo period, Ginza housed a silver coin factory that the name of town originated from: “Gin” refers to silver and “Za” a place where coins are produced. Kabuki and Noh theatres became popular among Chonin (well-off ordinaries) during the middle of the Edo period. These people had taste for fashion so a number of clothing shops and Wa accessories shops opened.
Ginza has remained the center of high society and luxury shopping in Tokyo for over 100 years. In recent few years, the town has seen changes with high rise buildings and many foreigners in the streets.
Kikuchi mentioned a Japanese word “wafuku,” literally meaning items of Japanese clothing as opposed to “yofuku,” western clothing. He said, “If you ask if wafuku is commonly worn by Japanese today, the answer is ‘No.’ Most people wear kimono or yukata only on special occasions.”
“The notion of Wa or traditional Japaneseness continues to change even today,” Kikuchi said. He mentioned how 400 years have passed since the Edo period and how it would be better to adjust the good point of Japan as time goes by. “We don’t need to be trapped by stereotypical views, or fixed notions of Wa.”
Ginza has constantly changed being a place of mix of new innovations and traditional culture. “That’s why our town has been a center of Tokyo. Wa is rooted in Ginza and it will continue changing with peoples’ values,” said Kikuchi.
You will find a number of Wa shops in Ginza that not only follow traditions but also pursue new ways to work with the community and changes of time.
Profile: Takehiro Kikuchi
8th president of Ginza Kunoya Inc., Ginza Meiten Kai (Elite Store Association) president. He supports the revitalization movements of Ginza town promoting “Ginza Wajuku” and the “Made in Ginza Project.”
Ginza changes with “Wa” as time goes by
July / 2011