2020 NO.28

Tokyo: The Ultimate Gourmet Experience


Local Production for Local Consumption in Ginza

The streets of Ginza, Japan’s premier shopping and entertainment district, are lined with historic stores as well as Japanese and global luxury brand shops. But inside and on the rooftops of Ginza’s bustling office buildings, extraordinary initiatives have yielded some very special “made-in Ginza” agricultural products.

Photos courtesy of Ginza Honey Bee Project Photography: Kurihara Osamu

Ginza Honey Bee Project: Collecting honey in the heart of Tokyo


The Ginza Honey Bee Project was launched in 2006 by Ginza businesspersons and store owners under the theme of “Coexistence between nature and the city.” The initiative, which started with several beehives on the rooftop of a 45m-tall building, made steady progress, gradually expanding in scope. Today, the project has grown to become a large honey producer. It operates bee-farms on the rooftops of four buildings and collects approximately 1 ton of honey annually.

Perhaps many people wonder whether it is even possible to keep bees for honey in Ginza. In fact, however, Ginza is an excellent site for beekeeping. The Imperial Palace, Hibiya Park, and many other locations with abundant nectar- and pollen-source vegetation, are within range of bee flight. Moreover, no pesticides are spread over the area, and the winters are not so cold. Overall, Ginza offers superb conditions for honey production.

More and more stores are creating original products made using the honey, such as cakes and cocktails, and it continues to grow as one of Ginza’s new specialty agricultural products.

Above left: Staff members collect bee honey on the roof of a building.
Above right: Bees return to their hive after collecting nectar from flowers.
Below left: Project chairman Tanaka Atsuo
Below right: The bee honey is sold at department stores and various other establishments.

Vegetables grown in a building on the main street state-of-the-art vegetable production plant

LED-illuminated frilly lettuce and rucola shine brightly on the other side of the glass panels lining the corridor. This place is actually a vegetable production plant located within Ginza Itoya, a stationery and art supplies specialty store. The plant was established in 2015, when the store underwent a full renovation to become a place that customers could truly enjoy rather than simply a shop that sold stationery.

The plant utilizes hydroponic cultivation systems to grow vegetables in water and culture solution. Since they are not grown in soil, these vegetables suffer virtually no damage caused by pests and diseases, and can be cultivated without pesticides. Furthermore, the water and air temperatures, the concentration of fertilizers, and the hours of daylight replicated by LED are automatically controlled at the optimal levels using information technology. All this means the quality of the vegetables, too, is consistently high. Customers can count on a stable supply of delicious fresh vegetables.

The vegetables cultivated here are supplied to the restaurant upstairs, and limited quantities are also available for purchase. The vegetables, known for being “fresh and delicious,” are very popular among consumers and are attracting a growing number of fans, who drop by the store just to see them grow on their way home from work or while out shopping.

Left: Chief officer Morimoto Katsushi harvests some frilly lettuce.
Right: Customers can also purchase vegetables at the drink counter on the first floor.

The fresh-picked vegetables are on the menu at the restaurant on the 12th floor.