1. Yamaha Ginza
    Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa
  2. ヤマハ銀座ビル
    Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

5 things to do at Yamaha Ginza

Experience the world of music across 14 floors at Yamaha’s flagship store in Ginza

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Yamaha Corporation
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Tokyo’s glitzy shopping district of Ginza is not only home to department stores and luxury boutiques, but also to Japan’s largest musical instrument store, Yamaha Ginza.

Yamaha’s flagship store opened in 1951 and was renovated in 2010 into a cutting-edge 14-floor facility, offering a large selection of instruments and sheet music, a music academy, instrument repairing services, a concert hall, cafés and more.

To make the most of your visit, read on for the five best things to experience at this shimmering gold high-rise in central Tokyo.

1. Tickle the ivories at Key Between People
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

1. Tickle the ivories at Key Between People

Upon entering the building, you’ll spot the cutting-edge piano, named Key Between People, which was designed to break the barrier between the audience and performers via circular benches surrounding the  instrument itself. Everyone is allowed to play the piano – no prior reservations needed – and your performance will even be projected onto a massive screen right in front of you through a camera trained on the keys.

Feel free to record yourself on your phone, or ask the staff to take some Instagram-worthy photos of your performance. If you’d prefer to listen, take a seat around the piano and enjoy a cup of steaming hot coffee from the on-site café.

2. Experience a new take on live music at Café Lounge Notes by Yamaha
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

2. Experience a new take on live music at Café Lounge Notes by Yamaha

Head up to the second floor to sample food and drink inspired by famous musicians, such as Chopin's favourite tarte flambee (¥1,000) or the Dummy Daisy mocktail (¥950), a combination of homemade lingonberry syrup and alcohol-free gin, inspired by Brahms’s favourite lingonberry jam.

The highlight of Notes by Yamaha, however, is the small stage equipped with a piano, bass and drum set, where live performances are reproduced virtually via Yamaha’s Real Sound Viewing system. Every 30 minutes (Sat, Sun & hols every hour after 2pm) you can enjoy a live performance reproduced by the instruments themselves, which are synchronised to videos of the actual performers. Even with no musicians on stage, it still feels like a real concert – you’ll find yourself applauding at the end of the show. 

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3. Enjoy the resonant woodwork of the Yamaha Hall
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

3. Enjoy the resonant woodwork of the Yamaha Hall

The Yamaha Hall occupies floors seven to nine of the Yamaha Ginza building and has space for an audience of 333 people. The concert hall is entirely made from wood and each part uses a material representing a classical instrument. For example, the side walls are covered with Sapele mahogany, which is used in pianos.

You’ll need to book a ticket for a concert here to have a chance to appreciate the acoustics. Thanks to the high ceiling, sound travels easily and, through rich reverberation, even music played pianissimo (that’s very softly) can be heard clearly. Performers are always impressed by the way the wooden interior harmonises with their instruments. 

4. Marvel at the shimmering exterior
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

4. Marvel at the shimmering exterior

Yamaha Ginza is not only fun to explore from the inside, but its exterior is also worth a look. Its shimmering glass façade is made from glass panels which have been infused with gold leaf dust by craftsmen from Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture.

For the best shots, head across the street to see the building in all its glory. Its appearance changes throughout the day based on the sun and surrounding lights, so it’s even Instagrammable during evening hours, when the street lights are reflected in the golden glass tiles.

If you’re visiting for a concert in the Yamaha Hall, you can get a closer look of the exterior from the hall’s lobby on the seventh floor. Admire the detailed patterns in the different shades of gold, each designed to symbolise waves of sound and changing rhythms.

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5. Snack on a special dorayaki
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

5. Snack on a special dorayaki

Before leaving Yamaha Ginza, make sure to pick up a dorayaki at the Café Lounge Notes by Yamaha. The traditional Japanese treat comes in three flavours – red bean paste and candied chestnuts, white bean paste and matcha cream, and strawberry bean paste and butter cream – sandwiched between two pancakes (¥330 each).

The snacks are embossed with Yamaha’s distinct tuning fork logo, and the package features an image of a gong, called dora in Japanese. You should get one of each flavour to increase your chance of getting your hands on the café’s special dorayaki that’s embossed with a brand new image instead of the Yamaha logo. The special dorayaki goes on sale from mid-April. You can also get the dorayaki to-go – they make for a great edible souvenir.

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