Little known fact makes this Japanese neighbourhood a great place to go for a romantic date. 

In Japan, the word “mamechishiki” literally translates to “bean knowledge“, but is used to refer to a small tidbit of trivia. It’s truly surprising how many beans of knowledge you can pick up in Japan, and one that’s recently blown everyone away is related to the streetlights in Ginza.

▼ Classed as one of Tokyo’s richest areas, Ginza is home to a large number of luxury boutiques.

Today, Ginza is famous for its high-end stores, but years ago it had another claim to fame, as the site of Japan’s very first electric streetlight. The light was turned on for the public in 1882, and at that time it was a carbon arc lamp that emitted a light similar to that of the sun’s rays.

This historic moment in history has been largely forgotten by the general public today, but if you head over to Ginza’s Nichome district, you’ll find the Ginza Commemorative Lamp, which stands in the exact spot where the first electric lamp was erected.

The brown street lamp (seen in the image below) is now outside the Cartier building, and it looks very different to all the other lights around Ginza, as it’s designed to look just like the original did back in the day.

That’s not the only bean of knowledge hiding on the streets of Ginza, as the other streetlights in the area also have a hidden history.

According to the Illuminating Engineering Institute of Japan, Ginza Dori, the main shopping street that runs through the area, underwent a complete renovation in 1968 as part of the Meiji 100th Anniversary Ceremony celebrations, which marked a century since the Japanese era changed from Keio to Meiji.

With support from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Ginza locals and workers involved in the construction project decided to redesign the streetlights, coming up with a new type of light suitable for the area. Previously, willow trees had lined the streets, so there was a desire to bring back this sense of elegance and beauty with the new lights.

When it came to designing the lights, there was more to consider than what the posts should look like — they wanted to think about how the lights made people look as well. Up until then, mercury lamps had been used, but these were unpopular, as they made red lipstick look black.

So they decided to conduct experiments focused on lipstick, trying out different light sources to see which ones were the best match for lipstick shades. Through these tests, they found that metal halide lamps had a beautifying effect on all types of lipstick. Plus, it made people’s skin look radiant, and it also illuminated passersby and products in shop windows beautifully, so it was decided that metal halide lamps, which had just been developed at the time, would become the light of choice for Ginza.

People online were surprised to hear about this little bean of knowledge, saying:

“I really like this story!”
“How romantic!”
“What a wonderful project!”
“I’ve always loved Ginza, but this makes me love the area even more!”
“No wonder I can always take great photos in Ginza!”

If you’ve ever walked the streets of Ginza at night, you may well have felt a sense of romantic ambience unlike any other place in the capital. That’s likely due to the attention to detail in the lighting design, not only in the brightly lit storefronts, but the tall posts on the streets outside.

So next time you want to look and feel beautiful, whether for yourself or a potential partner, you might want to put Ginza on your list of places to visit. And while you’re there, don’t forget to look up and admire the streetlights, and the surprising history that led to their existence.

Source: The Illuminating Engineering Institute of Japan via Hachima Kikou
Photos ©OonaMcGee/SoraNews24 
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