The Tsukishima Alley Walking Map introduces Japan’s traditional nagaya rowhouses and roji alleys for people who visit the old Tsukudajima and Tsukishima areas to enjoy walking through a maze of narrow alleys in the town on Tokyo Bay, and watching the local ways of life.
The Tsukishima Alley Walking Map introduces Japan’s traditional nagaya row-houses and roji alleys for people who visit the old Tsukudajima and Tsukishima areas to enjoy walking through a maze of narrow alleys in the town on Tokyo Bay, and watching the local ways of life. Also Tsukishima is popularly known for monja.
The area includes a reclaimed island at the mouth of the Sumida River called Tsukudajima that dates back to 1644 and still preserves a look of the old fishing settlement. The adjoining Tsukishima area is a product of Tokyo’s modernization and industrialization in the end of the 19th century built as part of the city’s urban planning, but based on the traditional city blocks of the Edo period. These reclaimed islands have numerous homey nagaya row-houses for the industrial workers and their families, and are full of friendly alleys. Strolling among the nagaya, time flows slowly, no cars enter to interrupt the quiet. Residents casually greet each other and chat among potted-plant gardens along the streets.
The map guides you to a lot of intriguing spots in the community with illustrations, such as, “Early 20th Century billboard architecture buildings,” “Retro-style police box,” “Old-fashioned barbershop,” “Old style liquor shop and stand-up bar,” “Popular local shitamachi [lit. lower town: traditional mercantile and/or working class districts in old Tokyo] market,” “Tsukishima-style shrine” (a Shintō shrine housed in nagaya), “Two nagaya connected by an overhead bridge,” “Flower pots on casters” (to make it easy to move them from the garage door), “Yakitori (grilled chicken) shop,” “Tōfu [bean-curd] shop (since 1893),” “Western-style nagaya,” “Renovated nagaya,” “Converted nagaya (into other uses),” “Public baths,” “Candy shop more than 100 years old,” “Green alleys,” “Community garden” and “Tsukudani [preserved seafood] shops.”
Speaking of local food, Tsukishima is popularly known for monja, thin batter with various ingredients self-cooked on a table-top grill, which attracts tourists of young and old not only from all over Japan but also from abroad, and more than 70 monja shops in the tiny island are packed with eager customers from noon to evening.
The map was designed by our University students and professor (Shimura) in collaboration with local residents. The Japanese version was published in July 2011, and has been welcomed by both residents and visitors, distributing some 10,000 copies all together by now. This is a give-away map funded by our Roji Beer project. Roji Beer is a local beer brand brewed by a well-known, award-winning Japanese brewer specialized in producing local beer brands. In Tsukishima, some of the local shops sell Roji Beer, and part of its profit supports printing cost of the map. When the project started, students designed its label and publicity poster, and also named it as Roji Beer (meaning Alley Beer), playfully punning on a word, Ji Beer (meaning local beer in Japanese). The project so far has been successful with a help of the local Tsukishima Shopping Mall Association.
Historically and geographically, the Bay area has been always the center of development and reclamation, ever expanding outward to off-shore and constantly adding new high-rise condominiums. We are thus very worried that this valuable atmosphere of our neighborhood might be threatened by currently on-going urban development, and it would be accelerated even more by additional construction toward the 2020 Olympic Games. And we feel a strong urge to promote awareness of and appreciation for the area’s rich history both at home and abroad.
The map in English can be downloaded at:
Our English website will be soon ready to describe more about the area.
A project by:
Hideaki SHIMURA (Professor of Architecture) and the graduate students Tatsuya KATSURA, Kentaro NAGAI, Kensuke MORIMOTO, Hiroki AKANUMA, Kana MORIYA and Yuta KAWASHIMA