March 16, 2018

Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology -- Meiji-Maru Maritime Museum

Let me introduce Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology and the maritime museum.

About 10min. walk to the south from Monzen Nakacho metro station, you will reach the University.

It’s only university in Japan specialized in maritime science and technology.  Origin of the university dates back to 19th century, started as two different schools specialized in fisheries and mercantile marine. Two schools were integrated into one comprehensive university in 2003.

Meiji-maru Maritime Museum

I would like to recommend you visiting a historical ship called “Meiji-maru” which was built in 1874 in Glasgow of UK as a first iron ship of Japan.  The main function of the ship was to transport materials to maintain lighthouses located throughout Japan.

Since the ship was well equipped and gorgeously furnished with a salon and special guest room, it served as a royal ship as well. The Emperor Meiji and high-ranking government officials boarded this ship for important occasions.
After the Meiji-maru served as maintenance ship for lighthouses for 20years, it was handed over to the mercantile marine school which is the predecessor of the present Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.  After that the ship was moored in campus ground and served as training facility for students for about 50years.

This is only iron ship existing in Japan and registered as an important cultural asset of Japan.

The ship is now open to the public as a maritime museum.
Open on Tuesday and Thursday, 1st & 3rd Saturday of month from 10:00 to 15:00.
A guided tour is available (Guided only in Japanese)

This is a steamship with three masts and gorgeous cabins.  I’m certain that you will enjoy its majestic appearance and feel cruising in the Meiji era.

You also can enjoy magnificent view of high-rise buildings of Toyosu district on board. The contrast of old steamship and high-rise buildings in blue sky will makes you refreshed.

The ship is surrounded by many cherry trees so that you will enjoy nice view of pink blossoms in season by the ship. Cherry blossom festival takes place from March 24th to April 1st in the campus and the ship will be illuminated at night during the festival.
 (by Haruko)

March 3, 2018

Asari clams are in season now !

This is our local cuisine, Fukagawa-meshi.
Asari clams (short-neck clams) are cooked with green onions and
seasoned with miso, then served over a bowl of rice.

In Edo Period, this Fukagawa area used to be a sand bank so that large quantities
of clams was caught.

Originally, this dish was the fishermen’s cooking. Since it could be cooked and
eaten quickly during their work and it was very tasty, Fukagawa-meshi
became popular around here.

This is the other type of Fukagawa-meshi.

Asari clams are cooked with rice and seasoned with soy sauce.
It is said that it was arranged by the carpenters so that it could be packed in the lunch boxes.

Although you can eat Fukagawa-meshi throughout the year, Asari clams are
especially delicious during spring season.

There are many restaurants around here in Fukagawa which serve

Why don’t you try it after our tour ?

(by Kaori)

February 20, 2018

Sumida-gawa Terrace walking in Koto City

As you may know, the Sumida-gawa river is one of famous rivers in Tokyo.
Sumida-gawa runs through Tokyo for 27 kilometers, under 26 bridges.
On the both sides of the river, Sumida-gawa Terrace is constructed, and provides
walking and jogging course. The course starts at Azuma-bashi Bridge, and finishes at Kachidoki-bashi Bridge. The length of Sumida-gawa Terrace is currently 28km.

Sumida-gawa river flows west side of Koto city, so let me introduce Sumida-gawa
Terrace walking in Koto city.
This picture shows Sumida-gawa terrace view from Shin-Ohashi bridge.

Shin-Ohashi bridge is located at the 5 minutes-walking from Morishita station of Toei Subway. It is a very simple shaped bridge.

When you walk on Sumida-gawa terrace towards the downstream, you can see another bridge called Mannen-bashi bridge. The original Mannen-bashi bridge was constructed in the 17th century. Current bridge was re-constructed in 1930.
The original bridge was drawn by Katsushika Hokusai,
one of very famous ukiyo-e artist.

A few minutes walking from Mannen-bashi Bridge takes you to another bridge.
This is Kiyosu-bashi Bridge.

Kiyosu-bashi Bridge is a suspension bridge. It is modeled after a suspension bridge in Cologne, Germany once considered the world’s most beautiful bridge. The Cologne bridge having been destroyed, its “world’s most beautiful” form can be seen only in the Kiyosu-bashi Bridge.

This bridge was designated as Important Cultural Properties by the national

You can also see the beautiful Kiyosu-bashi Bridge and the tall Tokyo Sky tree from
Sumida-gawa Terrace.

It is getting warmer toward the March. Let’s walking Sumida-gawa Terrace while feeling Spring wind.

(by Yumi)

February 11, 2018

Find Spring Coming in Kameido Tenjin Shrine with Plum Blossoms

February is the coldest season and especially this year we have very cold winter.  
However, the blooming plum blossoms are a sign that it is almost spring.  Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Koto city is famous for its beautiful plum blossoms and a few trees have started blooming.  In its premises there are more than 300 red and white plum trees.  

Blooming seems to be a bit delayed this year.  They are expected to reach their peak in terms of blooming after mid-February. Plum blossom festival has already taken place there until March the 4th.  It will be crowded with people and many stalls will open.  
Feb 7, 2018

This shrine was dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a very talented scholar, poet and politician in the 9th century and he became a god of learning.  He is the first person from the non-imperial families who was enshrined as god.  

It was established in 1662, when a wooden statue of Michizane from his favorite plum tree of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine in Fukuoka was installed.  He liked plum blossoms and wrote about them in his many waka poems. There is a statue of him when he was at the age of 5 with his poem praising of the blossoms.
“What beautiful red plum blossoms they are. I would like to adorn my face with them.” (trial translation)

Why don’t you visit there to feel spring!

(by Tomoko)

February 3, 2018

Do you know “Bouldering”?

It’s a sports that attracts a lot of attention as a new event of Tokyo Olympics of 2020.
Bouldering is a kind of wall climbing.
Without any sporting goods, nor rope, you climb the wall.
We have a place where we could enjoy this sports without reservation in Koto ward.

“Fish and Bird (” is a studio where even beginner can enjoy bouldering with help of the stuff.
After having rented the shoes (300 yen) and chalk(not to slip 200 yen), you can try this sports.
At the first time, we pay 1500 yen as a registration fee.
And for 3 hours, the fee is 1500 yen.

Today, I visited there. The wall looks very steep. I think it’s impossible to climb it. But they say for beginner, lady, and child, there are some ways to do, and they will tell us how to climb it.
So, next time, I will put on a sportswear, and try to bouldering.

(by Michiko)

January 6, 2018

Happy New Year 2018!

New Year is called “oshougatsu” in Japanese, and it indicates the time period especially from January 1st to 7th. Most Japanese rest during the first three days of the New Year. Most companies, offices, shops, and schools are closed.
It is said that “oshogatsu” was originally a festival to welcome Toshigami, a Shinto god, and to pray for a rich harvest for the year.
Now it is an event to celebrate the year.

Traditionally many Japanese people worship the sunrise on New Year’s Day (called “hatsuhinode”), and pay the first visit (“hatsumoude”) during these three days to a Shinto shrine or temple to pray for health and happiness of their families.

There are varieties of New Year’s decorations.
For example, a pair of “kadomatsu” are placed in front of the gates or entrances of houses, hotels, shops, etc. It consists of three kinds of auspicious plants, namely, pine tree branches, three bamboo poles with different length, and plum small branches. Particularly pine is regarded as a symbol of longevity.

Entrances of houses and shops are also decorated with  “shimekazari” made of “shimenawa”, sacred Shinto rope of rice straw decorated with auspicious objects such as bitter oranges, fern leaves, lobsters, etc. They are symbolic of prosperity, longevity, and good fortune. 

By the way, there are traditional dishes for the New Year in Japan.
Have you ever tried “zoni” or “osechi-ryori”?  If not, why not taste them? Zoni is a special soup boiled with rice cakes (“mochi”), vegetables, mushrooms, and other ingredients such as chicken or seafood. The shape of mochi and the kind of ingredients differ from district to district.

What about “osechi-ryori”? It is also a special dish prepared and served for the New Year. Varieties of specially prepared foods are   artistically arranged in a set of three- or four-tiered lacquer boxes. Osechi-ryori includes kazunoko (herring roe), kuromame (cooked black beans), ebi (lobsters), kurikinton (chestnuts), kamaboko (steamed fish paste), freeze-dried tofu, cooked vegetables such as carrot, mushroom, bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes, radish, etc.

Thus oshogatsu is one of the best opportunities to learn a traditional event in Japan. Why don’t you visit a shrine and a temple or try those special dishes during New Year’s Days? Maybe next year 2019?  You can refresh yourself! Best wishes!

(by Kazuo)

December 27, 2017

Visiting Seven Gods of Good Fortune(Shicchifukujin)

Visiting Seven Gods became very popular around middle Edo era.

People visited shrines and temples of seven gods especially in the beginning of the year wishing for a good luck.

Nowadays this trend still continues and many people visit shrines and temples.
You can find “Seven gods visiting tour” everywhere in Japan.
Koto city has two popular course: Fukagawa and Kameido.
Let me explain a little bit about Fukagawa course today.

List of temples and divine favors are as follows:

Name of Shrine or Temple Location Name of God Divine favors (goriyaku)
Fukagawa Shinmeiguu 2 minutes from Morishita ST Juroujin God of long life
Fukagawa Inarijinja 3 minutes from Kiyosumi Shirakawa ST Hotei God of good fortune
Ryuukoin 6 minutes from Kiyosumi Shirakawa ST Bishamonten God of War, Success
Enshuin 6 minutes from Kiyosumi Shirakawa ST Daikokuten God of good crops
Shingyoji 5 minutes from Monzennakacho ST Fukurokuju God of happiness, wealth, and long life
Fuyuki Bentendo 10 minutes from Monzennakacho ST Benzaiten Goddes of art and wisdom
Tomioka Hachimangu 3 minutes from Monzennakacho ST Ebisu God of business

Although I showed the distance from the nearby subway station, you can easily walk all seven in about 2 hours. Good things to walk all the way are that you may find many interesting spots on the way. There are fine restaurants and coffee shops. If you feel tired, you can take a rest and enjoy fine food.  Also there are several historical spots to know a history of Fukagawa area.

One good information is that from Jan 1 to 15, you can purchase a special signature board for seven gods and can collect a unique red seal of god at each temple or shrine.

And when you collect all of seven red seals, your good fortunes will be promised.(I believe)

If you are interested, get a signature board, collect seals and catch the good fortues of the year.

(by Hiroyasu)