Tsukishima: Monja Street

月島 (つきしま) – Tsukishima, translating to “Moon Island,” is a man made island in the Tokyo area on Tokyo Bay. It is a famous area known for having many お好み焼き (おこのみやき) – Okonomiyaki and mainly もんじゃ焼き (もんじゃやき) – Monjayaki shops.

Monjayaki (often shortened to monja) is the Tokyo version of Okonomiyaki, similar in that it is made with batter filled with various ingredients and cooked on a 鉄板(てっぱん) – Teppan hot plate table. Monja unlike Okonomiyaki has a much more liquid form, and is spread flat on the pan and eaten in bits off the Teppan with a tiny metal spatula. It was originally a snack sold in 駄菓子屋 (だがしや) Dagashiya, old style Japanese candy shops.

Located in Chuo ward of Tokyo, this island was formed in 1892 when creating a shipping channel through the Tokyo Bay. The former name of Tsukishima was 築島(つきしま) with the same reading “Tsukishima” but meaning “Constructed Island.” The small area now consists of over 70 different Monja and Okonomiya shops, with 月島西仲通り商店街 (つきしまにしなかどおりしょうてんがい) Tsukishima-nishinaka Shoutengai, the shopping street now called “Monja Street.”

Here you can eat the popular monja that was popular during pre-war days, okonomiyaki and monja consisting of 紅ショウガ – Beni-Shouga (pickled red ginger), 桜エビ – Sakura Ebi (tiny Japanese shrimp), and 切りイカ -Kiri-Ika (Sliced squid). Nowadays you can choose out of a variety of fillings for your Monja from pork to cheese to vegetables.

At the shops you have the option to cook the Monja on the hot plate yourself or have the shop employee prepare it for you at the table you are seated at. A single Monja or Okonomiyaki generally goes for ¥900-¥1200 depending on the filling you choose.

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