Tokyo District Guides: Mukojima 向島 東京
The Mukojima district of north eastern Tokyo, in Sumida ward, is a shitamachi (low-rise, traditional, slightly-down-at-heel) area across the Sumida River from Asakusa, and is just north of Tokyo Skytree in Oshiage.
Located as it is outside the area of central Tokyo enclosed by the Yamanote Line, Mukojima is not on the must-see itineraries of most visitors to Tokyo. However, Mukojima has several interesting places to explore.
History of Mukojima
From the Meiji Period on, Mukojima prospered as an industrial and entertainment district, as land prices were cheaper (and still are) compared to areas west of the Sumida River. Seiko established a factory in the area and the Seiko Museum, dedicated to the company's production of watches and clocks, is located in Mukojima.
Entertainment in the form of a geisha district (hanamachi), one of the few still surviving in the capital, also lives on in Mukojima. Several ryotei restaurants, where the geisha work and perform, are located along Kenban-dori.
Though damaged by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and World War II bombing, Mukojima escaped fairly lightly in comparison to other areas of the capital. Thus, something of the atmosphere of the pre-war Showa Period still survives in such places as Shitamachi Ninjo Kirakira Tachibana Shotengai and Hatonomachi Dori Shotengai.
Mukojima's main attractions include the aforementioned Seiko Museum, with a superb collection of the company's products from its formation in 1881 by Kintaro Hattori to the present day.
Mukojima Hyakkaen is a small, historical strolling garden, more than a century old, and closely associated with the arts and literature. The garden is known for its plum blossoms in February and March and hydrangeas during the summer months of June and July.
The Tobu Museum of Transport & Culture, adjacent to Higashi-Mukoshima Station on the Tobu Skytree Line, features 12 historic Tobu trains and buses including the company's first steam locomotive, electric train and electric locomotive. Museum staff present various shows of the steam locomotive and the model railway at set times throughout the day.
Close to the banks of the Sumida River within Sumida Park, Ushijima Shrine (牛島神社), is popular with newlyweds and people with ailments who come to stroke the nade-ushi statue of a cow and then the part of the body that is giving them pain.
The three-story Sumida Heritage Museum is close by to Ushijima Shrine and explains the area's history through dioramas, wall panels, wood block prints (ukiyo-e) and interactive displays. There is a moving exhibition of photographs depicting the devastating Tokyo air raids of World War II.
Several shrines and temples lining the eastern bank of the river are dedicated to the Sumida River Seven Gods of Fortune (shichifukujin). These include Mimeguri Shrine (which interestingly has a lion statue serving as a komainu, donated by the Mitsukoshi store in Ikebukuro when it closed in 2009), Kofukuji Temple and Chomeiji Temple.
Access - Getting to Mukojima
Higashi-Mukoshima Station on the Tobu Skytree Line is convenient for the Tobu Museum, the Seiko Museum and Mukojima-Hyakkaen Gardens. Ushijima Shrine and the Sumida Heritage Museum are nearer to Tokyo Skytree Station. Both stations can be reached from Asakusa Station which is on the Ginza Subway Line, Asakusa Subway Line and Tsukuba Express Line.