The artificial island home of monjayaki
Tsukishima is an artificial island that was constructed at the end of 19th century. It is located near the Tsukiji and Toyosu fish markets in Chuo Ward on Tokyo Bay. There, visitors can taste monjayaki, a local specialty inspired by Osaka’s okonomiyaki: a crepe filled with seafood, vegetables, noodles, and meat cooked on a griddle.
Originally, Tsukudajima was a small natural island inhabited by Edo Bay fishermen since the 17th century. The construction of the two islands alternated between 1892 and 1894. The resulting artificial island became an outgrowth of Tsukudajima on its northeast side.
This peninsula, which is only a few hundred meters wide and surrounded by the Sumida River, was really made by humans from soil dredged from a canal constructed in Tokyo Bay. Originally, Tsukishima was written "the constructed island." Its first bridge, Kachidoki, dates from 1940.
Tsukishima is practically located between Tsukiji in the north and Toyosu and Odaiba in the south. Guides usually offer to walk to Tsukishima after showing visitors the famous fish markets. One of the main reasons is not a secret: Tsukishima is famous for "Monja Street" or "Monja Town," a small district with a shitamachi old-fashioned atmosphere that delights fans of Japanese cuisine.
Local culture and culinary specialty
There, visitors can enjoy もんじゃ焼き monjayaki, a local specialty that some say is inspired by okonomiyaki. This famous savory crepe from Osaka and Hiroshima is prepared with a spatula on a griddle. Its cousin, the monja, is similar but offers some nuances, as it is mostly made of seafood, noodles, and vegetables.
The district boasts about 50 restaurants, all quite cheap and traditional, so a tourist information center was created to provide visitors with maps to the main restaurants dedicated to monja. Some are a century old and date back to the Edo period!
Over the past few decades, the island has experienced rapid real estate development. Skyscrapers have cropped up here and there like mushrooms, creating a view that contrasts with the district’s small traditional buildings. Therefore, visitors are advised fearlessly explore smaller streets off the main street, Nishinaka.
In the evenings, vehicles except for taxis are forbidden. This provide visitors with an enjoyable evening walk to ventilate their clothes from the smell of grilled food. Some restaurants actually offer plastic bags to isolate clothing or bags from cooking smells.
Tsukishima has no shopping district, which is a trait unique to this part of Tokyo. With the big upcoming changes underway for Toyosu in advance of the 2020 Olympic Games 🏅, now is the time to enjoy this part of Tokyo’s unique atmosphere.