Ginza is Tokyo’s finest shopping district, home to numerous flagship department stores, luxury brand boutiques, and old-school cafes. Neatly lined with granite cobblestones and retro lampposts, its streets are always teeming with people while maintaining its upscale tidiness.
This is in part thanks to the so-called Public Utility Conduits of Ginza, located on either side of Central Street. They consist of piping systems for every lifeline the city needs—electricity, gas, water supply, and sewerage. Typically, such pipes can be found right beneath the streets, not on the sides, and not bundled together. However, in this configuration, the pipes can function without being seen even on the occasion of maintenance work, without fear of spoiling the scenery.
Mostly overlooked and unnoticed, a window at the underground entrance of the ritzy Matsuya department store offers visitors a rare look into these secret lifeline tunnels. Inside, there are numerous cables and pipes running for over a mile, a gritty sight far from the glitzy aesthetics of Ginza.