The main setting of Chica Umino’s 3-Gatsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion) is Sumida River, Chuo Ward of Tokyo. Tokyo used to be called the City of Water and the setting of 3-gatsu no Lion, Rokugatsu Town and Mikazuki Town, is literally the city of water.
Let’s go on a photo journey in Tokyo, visit the places that Rei Kiriyama did, and experience the unique Japanese culture described in the story!
Story of ‘March Comes in Like a Lion’
The protagonist, Rei Kiriyama, is a professional shogi player and high school student. He loses his family in a car accident at a young age, and he is taken in by his father’s friend and professional shogi player, Kouda. Due to Kouda’s profession, Rei ends up becoming a professional shogi player himself at age 15. Kouda’s son and daughter, who are around the same age as Rei, also want to be professional shogi players. However, there is a lot of friction between them and Rei due to the latter’s overwhelming talent at shogi. Rei therefore runs away to live alone in Rokugatsu Town by Sumida River. For various reasons Rei has closed his heart, but he is given the opportunity to get to know the three Kawamoto sisters who live in Mikazuki Town, across Sumida River.
Roaming Tsukudajima: Model of Mikazuki Town Where the Kawamoto Sisters Live
The model of Mikazuki Town is Tsukudajima (Tsukudajima, Chuo Ward, Tokyo). It was created by Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. He brought skilled fishermen from Tsukudamura in Osaka to Edo (now Tokyo), and reclaimed land from the ocean to create an island for them. It used to be a small island, but the reclaiming of Tokyo Bay progressed, so it is now connected to Ishikawajima and Tsukishima. From the classic scenery in March Comes in Like a Lion, let’s look at Tsukudakobashi, Sumiyoshi Shrine and Tsukuda Park (Nearest stations: Tokyo Metro Yuurakuchou Line Tsukishima station and Toei Ooedo Line Tsukishima Station).
The house of the three Kawamoto sisters is the Japanese sweet shop called Mikazukidou, close to Tsukudakobashi, the bridge Rei crosses when he visits the three sisters. Tsukudakobashi is the main image for 3-Gatsu no Lion, and it appears in the manga, anime, and the live-action versions. The river flowing under the bridge is connected to the Sumida River.
This is the symbol of Tsukudajima. The main shrine to the torii gate, which faces Sumida River, is depicted in the manga and anime numerous times. There was a light green torii gate until 2015. The current torii gate replaced the old one in 2016.
When you look right past the red torii gate along Sumida River, you’ll see the reconstruction of the Tsukishima lighthouse. It’s a replica of the lighthouse that used to be there. Tsukuda Park appears when Rei returns home to his apartment, and when he talks with the second of the three sisters, Hinata.
Experience Monjayaki in Tsukishima
Tsukishima is famous for a food called monjayaki. Five minutes’ walk away from Tsukudakobashi, there’s a shopping mall called Monja Street. This is the place where the three sisters go shopping. In the story, they eat monjayaki at a restaurant called Monja Jirou, and it is modelled on a real restaurant named Monja Tarou. The restaurant’s exterior and interior as well as the menu are just as in the story, so Monja Tarou is a popular restaurant among fans. Monjayaki is a kind of food that you make yourself at restaurants, but if you don’t know how to make it, you can ask the staff to make it for you. The most popular item at this restaurant is Sake Mayo Monja, which is monjayaki with cabbage and salmon seasoned with butter and mayonnaise.
Monja Tarou (Address: 1-24-10 Chuou Ward, Tsukishima, Tokyo Access: Tokyo Metro Yuurakuchou Line, and Toei Ooedo Line Tsukishima station 3 minute walk from the 7 exit)
Monjayaki is a dish which has existed since at least 1819 in the Edo Period.
How to cook it: Spread oil on the heated griddle. Next, fry the raw ingredients such as the seafood. When the ingredients are cooked, make a ring with them. Pour flour mixed with water. After that, mix everything up and fry it by pressing the ingredients onto the griddle. The ingredients are mostly meat, fish, and vegetables, but recently there are even monjayaki that contain strawberries!