Itchy feet? If you have plans to travel to Japan after the pandemic, Tokyo is most likely at the top of your “must-visit” list for many reasons. This ultimate urban destination, for starters, has incredible theme parks, shopping centers, shrines, temples and other tourist attractions that are sure to make your day.
Tokyo, however, can get crowded and busy. If you want to explore an area that’s a little less busy but still within the capital city, consider checking out Tsukishima, an artificial island that combines the old, the new and the monja.
Where is Tsukishima?
Tsukishima, a Japanese word that means Moon Island, is a manmade island located south of the Tsukiji district. This island is also near Odaiba and Toyosu. Tour guides typically offer to walk tourists to Tsukishima after showing the famous fish markets.
You can get to this area by taking the subway. You can take the Oedo Line (Toei Subway) or the Yurakucho Line (Tokyo Metro) and ride a train bound for Tsukishima Station.
The History of This Manmade Island
Tokyo’s Tsukishima was originally a small natural island inhabited by the fishermen of Edo Bay back in the 17th century. The Meiji government designated the island as an iron-working area as part of the drive toward industrialization.
Back then, traveling to Tsukishima required getting on a boat. This changed when the Japanese government built Kachidoki Bridge, a structure that serves as the island’s permanent connection to the mainland.
Both locals and foreign visitors love Tsukishima for its quaint and tranquil atmosphere. If you’re visiting Tsukishima for the first time, you’ll definitely get the feeling that you’ve gone back in time and entered rural Japan, as you can find a lot of antiquated shops and buildings on this island.
Activities You Can Do in Tsukishima
Don’t be fooled by the island’s size. There’s a lot to do in this place.
Here are some of what you can do while you’re wandering around Tsukishima:
Visit a Shrine Dedicated to the Sea Gods
Not far from the Tsukishima station is Sumiyoshi Shrine, a sacred site dedicated to Sumiyoshi Daijin, the gods of sailing and the sea. You’ll find an ancient stone torii gate at the entrance of the shrine and easily spot the main building straight ahead.
This place fascinates foreign travelers. You’ll find the old shrine grounds contrasting with the high-rise buildings. This scenario shows that both ancient and new structures can co-exist harmoniously in Japan.
Jog Along the Island’s Sumida River Terrace
If you’re looking to stay fit as you travel, you could do some jogging in Tsukishima. Runners like the riverside route of this island, as it offers breathtaking views, staircases that will get your blood pumping and smooth surfaces.
The Sumida River terrace isn’t just popular for travelers. Locals love it, as well. The lack of heavy traffic, lush upper level and captivating scenery attract families, particularly groups of parents hanging out with their children. You’ll also find office workers eating lunch in this area, as they get to enjoy the sea breeze while they eat their meal.
Go on an Artsy Break
This island has an art gallery. Although the art space is small, the place is worth a quick visit. The gallery occasionally hosts exhibitions by up-and-coming local artists. What’s more, it holds pieces from famous artists, such as Hiroshi Senju, a talented individual renowned for his large-scale paintings of waterfalls.
Freshen Up at the Tsukishima Onsen
Feeling a bit beat after exploring the island? Make your way to Tsukishima Onsen, an unpretentious but welcoming and clean bathhouse that features an open-air bath and saunas.
Break Time: What to Eat in Tsukishima
If you’re hungry from all your traveling, don’t settle for fast food. Instead, take a bite at Monjayaki, the culinary specialty of Tsukishima.
Monjayaki is a delicious dish that consists of flour-based batter with ginger and cabbage mixed with a selection of cheese, shrimp, octopus and other ingredients. You can buy this food by going to Monja Town or Monja Street, a tiny district with an old-fashioned vibe that delights fans of Japanese cuisine.
If you’re going to sample Tsukishima’s tasty creations, but are unsure which monja eatery is best for you, consult the experts at the Monja Information Center.
The establishment’s knowledgeable guides will gladly give you a map of the monjayaki restaurants and respond to questions you may have about the soul food. They won’t, however, tell you which eatery has the tastiest creations. You’ll have to discover that yourself.
Besides monja, you can find and eat a senbei rice cracker, a cat-shaped savory snack. These crackers come in five different flavors. If you’re looking to bring home a cute souvenir, make sure you buy cat crackers at Tsukishima’s Kohagidou.
Tsukishima is one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Tokyo primarily because of the fascinating mix of the old and the new, delicious soul food and beautiful sceneries. When planning your trip itinerary, make sure that you take the time to check out this artificial island.