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Thoughtful Ginza Gifts on a Low-Key Budget

醍醐 由貴子

Ginza Six Editors Vol.26

When I was little, I liked people who gave us midyear and New Year’s gifts I liked. I loved a person who gave us herb butter in a glass jar and cookies in a pretty tin. When I went looking for a gift myself, I’d walk around with my mother until she was just about exhausted. Even then, if I didn’t like how the shop wrapped the gift, we’d have to start all over. Once, when I was in middle school, I went so far as using all the money I’d received for New Year’s that year to buy just wrapping paper and other gift-wrapping items. By the time I was out in the working world, friends needing to buy gifts would come to me for advice. Before I knew it, I was working as a writer specializing in gifts and souvenirs.

Which brings us to January 2018. I’d just given out my New Year’s gifts when I received an email. It was a commission to do this piece on GINZA SIX. It said, “We’d like you to wander about the second belowground floor of GINZA SIX looking for gifts.” So, basically, the job is to wander in paradise!

When people think of Ginza, the focus tends to be on costly or hard-to-find articles. But even if you’re in a hurry or even if you can afford only a normal amount, Ginza’s a place where you can find distinctive and refined gifts and souvenirs. In walking around the second belowground floor of GINZA SIX, I discovered this side of Ginza once again. Here, I’ll report on four establishments with high-quality gifts between 1,000 yen and 3,000 yen, with all due attention paid to packaging as well. What all these articles have in common is that they’re things I personally would be delighted to receive.

First up is Kurogi Chacha, a collaboration between the Japanese restaurant Kurogi—known as the hardest restaurant in Japan to reserve a table—and Fukujuen, the long-time tea purveyor.

Tokiha Shironeri (2,700 yen; all prices given are before tax) consists of Uji green tea and arrowroot jelly and Hokkaido cream cheese in perfect harmony. It’s also beautiful. The paulownia wood box is tied with a braided sanada-himo cord. When you open the box, a moist kuma bamboo leaf appears. Uguisu soy flour, brown-sugar syrup, and a teaspoon are hidden inside the lid, an arrangement that’s sure to delight package-lovers endlessly.

For something that keeps longer, there’s the handmade Chakai (1,600 yen for a set of four). The package is perfect. The anko bean jam, with a hint of bitterness from Uji matcha tea, should delight male recipients.

I tell the staff I’d like to make a purchase, then relax inside with some green tea and sea bream chazuke, something formerly served at Kurogi. At a place like this, you want to give yourself some extra time.

Next, I go to Café Europe, where you can experience the Ginza of yesteryear side by side with what’s fresh and new. Its emblematic logo is the profile of a woman with a faint smile in front of a piece of cake. In the showcase, you’ll find classic Western confections.

Actually, this is a revival by Jucheim of the original Café Europe, a legendary Ginza café.

As a gift, the café recommends coffee baumkuchen in a can that looks perfect for storing coffee beans (two sizes; 1,500 yen and 2,500 yen). Supervised by renowned coffee hunter Yoshiaki Kawashima, the cake combines finely ground coffee bean powder in the dough with coarsely ground coffee beans in the chocolate coating. Thanks in part to its rarity, its overall score as a gift is conspicuously high.

The Ginza Coffee Jelly, with an original coffee blend by Mr. Kawashima, is another of the café’s distinctive items. In the limited edition mug (800 yen), I’ve seen it sold out many times. So, if it’s something you’re after, it might be wise to ask the café to set one aside.

If you’re choosing a gift for someone who’s especially health conscious, you might try L’abeille, a specialty store for honey. For a more formal, thoughtful feel, I’d choose from the lineup of honey products made in Greece.

Greece is said to make the world’s best honey. The jar design is special, too. In the black gift box, it looks like a perfume vessel or an aroma diffuser.

I tried some Red Heath (125g; 2,000 yen), in stock for the first time in six years (!). It has a fresh, spicy aroma and a sharp tartness, like dried fruit, within the rich sweetness, a flavor combination that very much leaves an impression. Truly, it’s honey that makes a gift.

Speaking of perfume, you should check out Parfum du Miel, available exclusively at GINZA SIX. It’s made from roses, violets, and other flowers in acacia honey from Hungary. Any man out there whose first instinct is to choose this as his gift will surely be quite popular.

My final stop is Ben’s Cookies of the UK, which offers the same lineup of over 10 varieties of cookies as the flagship store in Jiyugaoka. All cookies are freshly baked in ovens behind the counter.

Purchase a red gift tin (1,300 yen with four cookies; 2,600 with eight cookies) and choose your favorite cookies: The staff will package each one individually and place them in the tin. The best-by date is just four days away because the cookies are completely free of preservatives or other additives. It’s something you can give with confidence to families with children.

The shopping bag tied with a striped ribbon has a distinct charm, too. I bought some for myself as well, for a snack and for tomorrow’s breakfast. That was fun!

At each place I visited today, I asked numerous questions and came away with many rewards. Now that I’m ready to go home, I feel like I’ve boosted my gift-buying skills. The second belowground floor of GINZA SIX—I think I’ll be visiting there more often.

Text: Yukiko Daigo Photos: Kanako Nakamura Edit: Yuka Okada

editors_daigo

醍醐 由貴子

ライター、PR。生まれたときから食いしん坊。街を媒体とする広告代理店を経て、2010年よりフリーランスとして活動をスタート。女性誌、男性誌問わず、主に食やライフスタイルについて寄稿。ウェブマガジン「cafeglobe」では手土産の連載を持つ。
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2018.02.08 UP