A Travel Guide to Tokyo's Famous Moon Island of Tsukishima

The History of the Island of Tsukishima in Chuo, Tokyo, Japan

Tsukishima is one of the most popular cities in all of Tokyo. What is special about this place is that it is a man-made island which has been in existence since the earlier times. The Tsukishima island is a part of Chuo ward in Tokyo, it is found across the channel from the Tsukiji Fish Market. This area has been developed beginning the Shogun Tokugawa period in the early 1600s.

By the mid-1600s, foreign travelers have started to settle in the area. This has significantly developed the region and turned it into one of the most flourishing business districts in all of Japan. During the earlier times, it was the main commercial center of all of the Tokyo region – giving its name. Chuo-ku directly translates to “central ward” in English.

Since then, it has been continuously developing and boundaries of districts in Tokyo have varied significantly. It was only in 1947 when Chuo ward has been officially established and recognized under the new Local Autonomy Law. Chuo has been formed from the combination of two wards known as the Nihonbashi and Kyobashi wards.

The island of Tsukishima has been completely developed by 1892. The materials which have been used to develop it came from the soil underneath Tokyo Bay. Interestingly, this soil has been dredged and collected in hopes to create a shipping channel in the area. Instead, it has formed an island. Its Japanese name, Tsukishima, has been formed from the characters meaning “moon island” or “constructed island”.

The Ultimate Tsukishima, Japan Guide

Popular Places to Go in Tsukishima

What is special about the Tsukishima area of Chuo is that it has been growing for almost a hundred years and it could be seen through the mixture of old and new in the reclaimed island. There are stores, shops, or homes that are still made of generations old design – traditional wooden houses. Going to this place will not only be an experience to note, it will give a rustic, cultural feel to the visit.

The Tsukishima Monjya Street – This is one of the most popular places to go in the area. The Monjya street, or Monja street, is found at the center of Tsukishima. It is a street lined with so many restaurants that serve authentic Japanese food of almost all kinds! However, it has gained popularity because of the delicious local delicacy of Monjayaki. A number of tourists have even exclaimed that more than 90% of the stores in the Monjya street sells Monjayaki.

For those who wish to have the special experience, there are restaurants that allow their visitors cook their own Monja. There is a personal iron plate found at every table. Visitors can make and mix their own flavors and cook it to the consistency or crispiness that they wish. They are allowed to personalize their own Monjayaki. For travelers who have never tried this before, there should be no fear as store staff usually give instructions on how to cook these delicious snacks.

Since this is a popular snack in Japan, most restaurants are full not only with tourists but locals as well, especially during dinner time. Friday nights are not the best place to go because the lines are usually very long.  It seems that the Monjayaki is popular after work snack for a number of Japanese people living in the area. Because of this, it would be a good idea to research on the best restaurants and book ahead of a visit. This is to avoid waiting in long queues and enjoy the different places in Monja Street. This is also to avoid going to the area and finding the restaurant in mind to be on a regular holiday.

The Nihonbashi

Nihonbashi, in English, literally means Japan Bridge. This is a popular business district in Chuo and the particular bridge has been made famous because of its age. It has been established as a wooden bridge in 1603. It was updated to its steel and frame version in 1911. The interesting thing about the Nihonbashi is that it connects the Akihabara to Ginza in the south and traverses the Nihonbashi river.

Living in Tsukishima, Japan

A number of locals in Tsukushima have explained their love for living in the area. There are locations where there are traditional houses and there are places in the region with skyscrapers and residential condominiums. It is a mixture of tradition and modernization. This is why a number of people are quite surprised why not so many tourists visit the area.

Because of its low popularity, most of the attractions in Tsukishima are rarely explored. While most tourists enjoy shopping in districts of Tokyo like Ginza, Shinjuku, and Akihabara – the silent river has hidden the cultural island of Tsukishima.

Many people think that since it is a “fake” island, it would not give that beautiful vacation vibe. However, this is where most people are wrong. Despite being built on reclaimed soil, the island of Tsukishima still gives that laid-back island feels. Although there are not much tourist attractions in the area, the quietness of the surroundings makes it perfect for residence.

Equipped with the district’s map, a number of visitors enjoy a simple, peaceful walk around neighborhoods because it gives a strong feel of the traditional Japanese life. The suburban Japanese neighborhoods are small yet cozy. Nowadays, most traditional homes are being replaced by high-rise residential condominiums. This has turned the simple island life into an urbaner influenced style.

Popular Tsukishima Eats

The Delicious Monjayaki – For a lot of tourists, the Monjayaki is not such a popular delicacy. However, it might be enough to say that anyone who has not tasted it is missing a big part of their lives. The Monjayaki is a Japanese pancake which was cooked with seafood, vegetables, and meat. It is different from a takoyaki and an okonomiyaki. The Takoyaki has a round shape, the okonomiyaki is usually sweet and the Monjayaki is usually runny in consistency. It is not a standard pancake made from bread-like food, it is much stickier and softer than that.

Popular flavors include seafood, meat, and there are some restaurants that offer curry flavored Monjayaki. Some flavors are sweet like mocha flavored ones. And others are just with a simple batter with cheese – a simple classic.

A number of locals, as well as foreign travelers, suggest that it would be best to research about the Monjayaki before heading out to randomly buy one. This is because the Monjayaki is a popular dish with a number of variants. Searching ahead might help in choosing the flavor and taste for the Monjayaki.

The Bitesize pieces of Tsukudani – Another popular dish which is local to Tsukishima is the Tsukudani. This particular dish originated from the Edo period and was made as a preservable and storable food. It has been a part of the Japanese culinary for a long time. This dish is usually made from seafood or seaweed which has been mixed in with soy sauce and mirin. This mixture of flavors will then be simmered in high pressure to ensure the preservation of the ingredients. Spicy versions are best served during the cold winter days of February.

Traditionally, the Tsukudani is made from Wakame seaweeds which are locally abundant on the island. Most locals prefer eating this Tsukudani on top of steaming hot rice to give it additional, savory flavors. What many travelers must note and remember is that the Tsukudani usually has very strong tastes and flavors which are why most locals prefer only a little amount in every meal.

More like a side dish, a number of restaurants in the Tsukishima area serve this along with most rice meals. There are those that are flavored with varied seafood like clams, fish, and the like. Others prefer the mixture of sweetness and spiciness which is why some chefs serve it with more ginger. There are a number of variations which can be done with Tsukudani.

There are a number of tsukudani shops within the area where the first shop in the area still surviving near the Sumiyoshi shrine. The place is a quaint restaurant, a building which has been passed down through generations. The original building still stands until today and still sells Tsukudani.

Flourishing Businesses in Tsukishima

The Tsukishima Kikai Japan – This particular company has been established in 1905, in a place that is found somewhere in Tsukishima. It is a multi-specialty company whose expertise revolves around engineering, water purification, energy production, machinery and equipment manufacturing, and much more. One of its main laboratories and headquarters are located in Chuo, Tokyo.

It is an industrial company that focuses on activities and projects related to water environmental businesses, power plants, sewage treatment plants, food plants, steel plants, and much more. Most of their businesses focus on industries related to manufacturing and treatment. Like Yin and Yang, they produce plants that produce power yet produce plants that help in the environmental process development of the country.

The profile of the company is impressive as it is a multi-yen company which has been established for more than a hundred years. The new director of the company is named Kazuhiko Yamada. Directors include Masashi Teranishi, Bunyu Futamura, Sasaki Sano, and others. There had been changes in managing officers through the years, but the image and profile of the company never changed.

How to get to Tsukishima, Japan

Getting to Tsukishima from Tokyo Station

The Tsukishima station can be accessed by train lines which come from other central business districts of Tokyo. For instance, to get to the Tsukishima station from Tokyo station, it might be a good idea to ride the JR Yamanote Line from Tokyo Station. To go to the Tsukishima station, a transfer to the Yurakucho line might be needed. Total travel time will only be about 10 to 15 minutes and total travel costs about 300 yen.

Getting to Tsukishima from Shinjuku Station

For those who wish to go to Tsukishima without any transfers can take the Oedo Subway line from Shinjuku. A good reminder is that the train shall go to the direction of Roppongi until it reaches the Tsukishima station. The trip takes longer at a total travel time of 25 minutes and total travel cost is about 270 yen.

Places Surrounding Tsukishima

Traveling to Ginza

A trip from Tsukishima to Ginza takes only about 8 to 11 minutes. For anyone living in the Tsukishima area, going to Ginza is a good idea for shopping. It is home to a number of world-class and world-famous brands. What is interesting about this place is the fact that Ginza is the most expensive shopping district in all of Japan. It has been featured and reviewed by famous contributors of Tripadvisor and Bloomberg as one of the most famous “upmarket shopping, dining, and entertainment district” in all of Japan. Interestingly, a number of journalists have exclaimed on the fact that there are coffee shops selling a cup for a hefty $10. It is voted as one of the most popular districts in all of Japan and its popularity has reached a multinational level.

Traveling to Chiba

Those who wish to visit the Tokyo Disney Resort must go to the Chiba prefecture of Japan. A trip from Tsukishima lasts for about 46 minutes. Other than the popular Disney Resort, Chiba is also a great place for a cultural trip. It has a very rich history because it used to be a popular center for trade. This is due to its location right next to the river.

Traveling to Harajuku

A little far from the Tsukishima island would be the district of Harajuku. It is one of the most popular commercial districts in all of Tokyo which has been featured in a number of literary works. It represents the image of modern Japan. It has been popular since the Edo period as well and has been quite a flourishing district since.