Are you looking to explore a unique corner of Tokyo that encapsulates both tradition and modernity? Tsukishima, a lively and colorful neighborhood, offers a mesmerizing blend of the two. Let's dive into this fascinating district and discover why it's a cool destination for your Tokyo trip!
Photo provided by: Chuo City Tourism Association
A Taste of Old Tokyo
Spreading along the Sumida River, the Tsukuda and Tsukishima area are places where time seems to have gracefully paused. As you walk through its streets, you'll find remains of the flavor of the old town, echoing the whispers of Tokyo's rich history. However, the landscape here is ever-changing.
Because of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, reconstruction work has been carried out, giving rise to modern high-rise apartments and buildings juxtaposed with many housings that carry the full flavor of the old town.
This stunning blend of new and old invites you to explore and enjoy the contrasts, making Tsukishima a captivating destination.
- Getting to Tsukishima is a breeze! Board the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line or Toei Oedo Line and get off at Tsukishima Station. From there, you're just a short walk from the neighborhood's main attractions.
Highlights of Tsukishima's Living Heritage
As you wander through the streets of Tsukishima, you'll feel a connection to the lives of those who've called this place home for generations.
Imagine the many flowerpots artfully arranged on narrow eaves or the surprising sight of a washing machine positioned outdoors. Picture a local pub with a traditional lantern gently swaying outside, beckoning you to step in and experience a taste of the past.
The neighborhood exudes a nostalgic charm that's sure to capture your heart. And don't be shy to strike up a conversation with an elderly resident relaxing on a round chair. Though words may be few if you don't speak Japanese, their warmth and friendliness will transcend language, allowing you to communicate through smiles and gestures alone.
In Tsukishima, you're not just a visitor but a part of a living, breathing tapestry of tradition and community.
1. Tsukuda Park: Riverside Reverie
Within Tokyo's nostalgic old town, the riverbanks hold a secret haven for those yearning to savor the essence of a bygone era.
One such spot is Tsukuda Koen (Tsukuda Park), positioned gracefully on the west side of Chuo-ohashi Bridge. This slender, elongated park runs along the iconic Sumida River and is home to a restored lighthouse with a history that reaches back several centuries.
The Sumida River itself serves as a tasteful emblem of Tokyo's old town, bringing life and tradition to its shores. Come summertime, it transforms into a festive playground, where yakatabune (roofed entertainment boats) drift lazily on the water, and Japan's grandest firework festival paints the sky.
The Sumida-gawa Terrace is an esplanade that graces both banks, offering a serene pathway that leads you to a Tokyo less seen, yet deeply felt. A walk along this riverbank is not just a stroll but an immersion into a part of Tokyo that whispers its storied past and colorful traditions.
2. Sumiyoshi Jinja: Where Sacred Meets Skyline
Just across Sumiyoshiko-bashi Bridge from Tsukuda Park stands the venerable torii gate of Sumiyoshi Jinja (shrine). It's a sight that captures the essence of the Tsukuda and Tsukishima area, where tradition and modernity stand shoulder to shoulder.
High-rise apartments tower above the shrine, framing a scene that's uniquely and distinctively local. This is no ordinary view but a special landscape that speaks to the area's character.
Founded in 1646, Sumiyoshi Jinja has long been cherished by the community as a guardian for ships, thanks to its strategic location on the waterfront. As you gaze upon the shrine, you're not just seeing a place of worship but witnessing a living testament to a community's faith, history, and harmonious coexistence with the contemporary world.
And if you're visiting in early August (Aug. 4-7), you can even catch the Sumiyoshi Shrine Festival here.
3. Kachidokibashi Bridge: Majestic Bridge with a Storied Past
At the lower reaches of the Sumida River, Kachidoki-bashi takes pride of place as Japan's largest drawbridge. This historic bridge, registered as an Important Cultural Property, stands as a monument to engineering ingenuity and timeless design.
Want to take in the full splendor of Kachidoki-bashi? Head to the Sumida-gawa Terrace, where panoramic views await. From this vantage point, you can admire not only the majestic bridge itself but also the tranquil Sumida River and towering skyscrapers that dot the skyline.
Time your visit from dusk to night when the landscape comes alive with glittering lights, and the bridge reveals its true elegance.
Though no longer raised and lowered due to heavy traffic, the bridge's history is preserved nearby at the Museum of Kachidoki-bashi. Here, you can explore the large operating machinery once used to lift the bridge, connecting you to a chapter of Tokyo's architectural legacy that continues to inspire.
4. Tsukishima Monja Street: A Flavorful Encounter with Tokyo's Unique Soul Food, Monjayaki
Tokyo's monjayaki may not share the international fame of Osaka's okonomiyaki, but don't be mistaken, it's a dish that stirs passionate debates and regional pride in Japan. Want to be part of the culinary conversation? Tsukishima Monja Street is calling your name.
Home to monjayaki, a quirky and delicious local favorite, this inviting street is adorned with over 80 specialized restaurants, each with its unique flair. Venture inside one that catches your eye, and prepare for a taste adventure. Monjayaki might not win a beauty contest, but one bite will reveal why it's a cherished delicacy.
Crafted from a flour-based batter blended with cabbage, ginger, and a mix of toppings like octopus, shrimp, or cheese, monjayaki offers a playful and tasty experience. You'll be handed a bowl of batter and ingredients, and the fun begins. Oil the pan, sizzle the goodies, create a donut-shaped hole, and pour in the batter. Then, swiftly mix everything toward the center, and voila! A flat, delicious pancake is yours to savor, cut, and enjoy with a spatula.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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