So, where was I? Ah yes, in a monja restaurant in Tsukishima, or rather, just leaving a monja restaurant on Nishinaka Dori, Tsukishima.
The really appealing thing about this area is the laid back community feeling you get from walking around. It can’t be much more than a km away from exclusive Ginza with its designer department stores. What you see in Tsukishima and Tskuda, (it’s neighbour), is people living their every-day lives and a sense of proudness in their little corner of Tokyo.
Heading across one of the old fashioned red bridges you enter an area which does feel older that the rest of the island. There was an elderly woman using one of the old water pumps from one of the old wells. She was keen to warn us not to drink the water, but to water her vegetables it was fine! Sensing she was up for a chat we asked about the area. Apparently, although most of the island was only formed in the 1890′s whilst dredging the bay so that larger ships could pass, this little corner was actually a natural island and was here before. Back then it was called Ishikawajima, a name which appears to be completely lost in this area now. But it explains the different feel when you cross the bridge.
Sumiyoshi Jinja is a shrine which was actually brought here from Osaka when a noble man moved from Osaka and made the island his home. It now protects the whole of Tsukishima and Tsukuda.
Pay a visit to the amazingly old Tenyasu Tsukudani shop. They have been preserving fish and seaweed in a soy/sugar mix for over 170 years…in the same building! It’s still considered one of the highest quality Tsukudani suppliers and I had to get a sample. You can buy it for a price per 100g. I opted for the ebi, (small shrimp) and ami, (tiny fish, smaller than whitebait). It’s used as a flavouring to rice, either mixed in or just on top of freshly steamed white rice.
So in my opinion, once you’ve visited all the main Tokyo sites, a couple of hours spent in Tskushima is a great way to get that ‘every-day’ Tokyo life experience. I will be recommending it on some of our private Tokyo tours! And, give a ‘monja’ night a try, it’s fun to cook your own food!