Tokyo Diaries – Tsukishima

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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.

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  1. e

    All hail you generous shutter-happy spine soldier. Hopefully moving in warm weather benefits you more than walking in the cold…
    You are hitting a sore spot with 3gatsu though. It has been waiting quietly for a second chance in my reading list for the longest time after the first volume rejected me. Ill timing? I remember feeling completely drained and heavy after reading. Truthfully it took about three volumes for me before I could get into Umino's Honey&Clover – it ended up as one of my top favourites manga – . This post of yours is actually inspiring me to try approaching SnL again… one month from now :p.
    Thanks for the pictures, the skyline is indeed captivating.

  2. n

    That Hotaluna looks like it's about go through some galactic wormhole. Really lovely place. Makes me wish I was a Shogi prodigy so I could afford a room up in one of those buildings facing the side of the river.

  3. The Himiko was fun to ride in. Had lifesize cardboard cutouts of Galaxy Express characters. The Hotaluna has some kind of luminescent paint (thus the name) which supposedly makes it glow at night – that must be quite a sight.

    To be fair, I would guess Rei isn't in one of those fancy new high-rises we can see in the picture. I don't remember him having a view like that…

  4. l

    And I have pictures from the Shinkawa side of the Chuo Ohashi bridge. This one taken from the foot of the tall white apartment block that is the centre of your image. And this one looking up the river to see the Tokyo Skytree in the distance. You can see someone enjoying the morning sun on a great morning. I wish I didn't need to attend meetings that morning. This is currently the wallpaper for my desktop.

    The reason why I was there is because the grey office building beside the apartment block was the head office of the Japanese company I currently work for. I was there in October 2012 for a conference. They shifted out late last year. There are a couple of sculptures at the base of the building:
    boy statue
    girl statue

  5. Slightly scary Euro-statues. Why does Village of the Damned come to mind?

    That bridge is a stunner.

  6. F

    Sorry to hear you back is out – life can be miserable in that state indeed! I hurt my back a few years ago at work so badly that I literally couldn't walk for weeks afterwards and was barely functional for months after that….

    Anyhoo! All that aside another very nice set of photos… Definitely have to try the okonomiyaki when in Japan again, and your description while accurate does not necessarily excite the appetite much. XD

    I happen to like Japanese bridges and small places like you described, so maybe I will take a look myself if I can….

  7. R

    So sorry for your back pain, and I can understand that it's beyond the pain sometimes — the frustration of having such a haunting pain can be quite something. My friend, who has the similar issue, cried a few times, and it's not because of the pain but because of how it took away her chance to do the things that she wanted when she wanted. She's on our school project team, and there were times that we had to do her part — that frustrated her the most. I hope that there are surgical or nonsurgical treatment options available to you, or you have found ways to relieve the pain — even momentarily. On the flip side, as I am trying to understand my friend better and imagining your mental state, perhaps it's this additional challenge that has shaped you and turned you into a stronger person. I mean, to have the diligence to manage and grow this blog and the gut to seize the moment and chase after your dream takes a lot of strength and determination. Keep marching forward, Enzo…you have your readers' support.

  8. Very true. Basically, when I got my diagnosis it felt something like a prison sentence. This is going to be an issue for the rest of life – no ifs, and or buts about it. I simply cannot do many things I'd like to do, and pain is pretty much a constant – it's just a question of controlling it.

    There are surgical options, but they're pretty much all bad – last recourses for when the pain gets so bad there are no other options. The one flicker of hope is disc replacement surgery (similar to hip or knee replacement) but that's not approved in the US yet and still in the early stages. Non-surgical options basically amount to pain meds (which are all bad for you, and the ones that work are addictive) and stretching/yoga, which I do. And core strengthening stuff like Pilates, which I should.

  9. R

    I can't do much for my friend other than trying to be as supportive and understanding as I can be, but I do pray for her, and I will do that for you, too. Hope that in the very near and reachable future there will be a cure — whatever that is — and that you, my friend, and the many others who suffer the same can lead a pain-free life. On yoga, you may want to try the yang yoga that is meant for building core strength, and you can complement it with the yin yoga to massage your fascias — it helps stretch and relax your muscles at the same time.

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