February came in like a lamb.
The unseasonably warm weather continues, so I paid a visit to Tsukishima today. It’s the 120 year-old man-made island across the Sumida River from Tsukiji, but you may know is as the setting for Umino Chica’s marvelous manga 3-gatsu no Lion. I’d never been out there, but reading the manga again recently put me in mind of it and I realized it’s only a 20-minute ride on the Yurakucho line. Given that being immobile is the worst thing when my back goes out, I pushed myself to get on my feet and stretched out – though in truth, I was pretty much a wreck after about a hundred yards.
Umino-sensei thoughtfully provides readers with a “Walking Tour Guide Map” of Tsukishima, featuring the locales from the manga. Truthfully though it’s a pretty small place and you’re not likely to get lost, and if you know the story you’ll certainly recognize the images – Chuo Ohashi bridge, Sumiyoshi Jinja, “Monja Dori” (Tsukishima is the most famous destination for monjayaki, the Tokyo version of okonomiyaki – which looks like the results of a night spent drinking too much but actually tastes pretty good).
Tsukishima isn’t the most photogenic place I’ve visited – though if you love bridges it’s loaded, and the Chuo Ohashi is a stunner. But it’s yet another of those charming little places where a bit of Old Edo survives in the back alleys and decaying wooden houses and shops, and the view of the Tokyo skyline is pretty spectacular. I can see why Rei-kun loves living there – I think I would too, if I could afford it. During the trip I happened to see the Hotaluna (“Moon Firefly”) – one of the two river ferries designed by the legendary Matsumoto Leiji – on its way from Asakusa to Odaiba. I took a ride on its sister ship the Himiko on one of my trips to Japan.