Skip to main content

The end of the Sumida River

I don't mean The End, Fīnītu, Apocalypse, Armageddon, Götterdämmerung, 末法思 (mappō shisō, the end of the world); but the last part of the Sumida that flows through Chūō-ku.

The Sumida used to flow into Tokyo Bay near the current Eitaibashi, but after the construction of Tsukuda, Tsukishima, Kachidoki and Toyomichō, the river was artificially lengthened. It's a short section, but possibly the most beautiful part of the river (as opposed to the most interesting one in Taitō). The river divides in two just after Eitaibashi, and has only four bridges in this section.

Tsukuda, where the Sumida River splits into two.
The bridge to the right is Chūō-Oohashi.

Aioibashi

Facts: name in kanji 相生橋, completed 1998, length 149.1 m, width 36.8 m.

This bridge connects Chūō-ku to Kōtō-ku. It's functional, not particularly attractive and not in the main canal of the Sumida, but for some reason it's usually counted as one of the river's 26 bridges.

That's Aioibashi in the background.

Aioibashi

Chūō-Oohashi

Facts: name in kanji 中央大橋, completed 1993, length 210.7 m, width 25 m.

I call it X-shaped; engineers say it's a two-span cable-stayed bridge supported on a concrete caisson. The bridge is lopsided: the tower is closer to the west end of the bridge.

Chūō-Oohashi above and below


The most interesting thing about this bridge is that the friendship between the Sumida and the Seine in Paris is celebrated here, in this area. You didn't know the two rivers were best buddies? Oui, certainement, bien sûr! They became "friendship rivers" in October 1989, and if you know where to look, you'll see evidence of their canoodling everywhere.

A horse chestnut (marronnier in French, Aesculus hippocastanum in Latin) is planted on the bank of the river in Tsukuda 11-Chōme. The tree is widespread in parks in Paris.

 
The horse chestnut from Paris

マロニエ, marronnier

The horse chestnut is towards the left in this photo. The bridge ahead is
Tsukuda-Oohashi.

The island Tsukuda has eight ultra-high-rise apartment buildings, a development that's known as Ookawabata River City 21 (大川端リバーシティ 21). Right at the tip of this development is a stone-paved park called Paris Square that's supposed to resemble a city square in Paris. It also has a sculpture that commemorates the relationship between the two rivers and cities.

I was standing on Eitaibashi when I took this photo. You can clearly see
where the river splits into two at Tsukuda, the island straight ahead.

This is the very tip of Tsukuda. Paris Square is underneath those trees.
 
Standing on Tsukuda, looking towards Eitaibashi

Standing at the tip of Tsukuda



I took this photo (without zooming) while standing at the tip of Tsukuda.

This monument is called "Le Amitié pour Avenir". It's in honour of the
friendship between Tokyo and Paris.

These women are privileged beyond belief. This is a very, very wealthy
area. Would I trade places? Not on your life!

Finally, on Chūō-Oohashi itself is a sculpture by Ossip Zadkine, a Belarusian-born artist who lived in France. It's called The Messenger, and it was donated to Tokyo by Paris.

Ossip Zadkine's statue



Tsukuda-Oohashi

Facts: name in kanji 佃大橋, completed 1964, length 220 m, width 25 m.

It's a bridge. That's about as much as I can say about it.

Tsukuda-Oohashi


Tsukuda-Oohashi, Chūō-Oohashi and Sky Tree seen from Kachidoki

Kachidokibashi

Facts: name in kanji 勝鬨橋, completed 1940, length 246 m, width 22 m.

Right, things are about to get interesting again. This is the only double-leaf bascule bridge on the Sumida, in other words, it's the only bridge that could …

Yes, past tense. The last time the bridge was opened was in 1970. Anyway.

It's the only bridge that could lift up so that tall ships could pass by. Both spans were counter-weighted so that each 90-ton span could easily rotate upwards to their full 70 degrees in only 70 seconds.

Kachidokibashi. I took dozens of photos of this bridge.
It's one of my favourites.

It was completed in 1940 and was dedicated in celebration of the Japanese Army's victory at the battle of Lüshunkou. I've read that "kachidoki" was a shout or cry of victory. During the bridge's heyday from 1940 to the mid-1950s, it opened five times daily for twenty minutes at a time to allow freight ships to pass to the large warehouses of Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Sumitomo and the Ishikawajima Shipyard along the river.

The last opening for ship traffic was in 1967; and the last ceremonial opening was in 1970. Nowadays it would be very difficult, technically and financially, to restore the bridge to its former glory.

Kachidokibashi from the western bank and ...

... from the eastern bank.


More trivia about this bridge:

Godzilla destroys this bridge in the original 1954 movie. You can see Godzilla and the bridge at roughly 1:30 in this video:


I found this funny post (on a very nice English blog written by a Japanese man) about the pronunciation of hashi vs bashi, which is particularly quirky with this particular bridge.






The next four photos are details of decorations on the bridge,
depicting the lifting of the two bridge spans.




This is the central hinge, where the bridge used to lift.

It doesn't open anymore, but you can clearly see
the joint and the river below.

The end

That's it. That's the end of my Sumida River series. I've now taken you along its length of 27 kilometer, passing over its 26 bridges. It's been a labour of love, and I'm happy with the end-result: my posts have told you more about the river, the bridges and its history than you'd find in the English Wikipedia.

It's a grand old river. You should pay your respects when you're in this area.

Read about flood control and the sluices at the start of the Sumida here.
Read about the Sumida and its bridges in Taitō-ku and Kōtō-ku here.
Read about the gods, legends and historical spots of the Sumida here.

Ookawabata River City 21 seen from Tsukudajima

Boats 'n stuff

More boats 'n stuff

If you look at the barnacles, you can clearly see how high the tides can rise
in the canals on these man-made islands.

Above and below, you can see flood control locks everywhere along the river.
The statue below is called みどりの風, midori no kaze, green wind.

 
 
バイバイ、スカイツリー!じゃね!

Popular posts from this blog

Higanbana, a flower of loss and longing

I love this flower. I love all flowers, but this one, ah, this one comes packaged with the most wonderful stories. Its scientific name is Lycoris radiata; in English it's red spider lily; in Japanese it has several names including higanbana (ヒガンバナ), in other words, autumn equinox flower.


It's also referred to as manjusaka (曼珠沙華), based on an old Chinese legend about two elves: Manju guarded the flowers and Saka the leaves, but they could never meet, because the plant never bears flowers and leaves at the same time. They were curious about each other, so they defied the gods' instructions and arranged a meeting. I assume it was not via Twitter. The gods promptly punished them, as gods are wont to do, and separated them for all eternity.
To this day, the red lily is associated with loss, longing, abandonment and lost memories in hanakotoba(花言葉), the language of flowers. It's believed that if you meet a person you'll never see again, these flowers will grow along your…

This is what my language sounds like

A while ago I promised I would do a post about Afrikaans songs. Oh dear. It's more work than I thought it would be, and it's aggravated by the fact that I've lost touch with contemporary culture in South Africa. (Please don't ask me about Die Antwoord. I don't get it. I don't want to get it.) So for now, while I continue my research, I've selected two golden oldies that are very natsukashii (that's a Japanese word for "dear" or "missed") to me. You'll notice the central themes that unite these songs: an abiding love for Africa, as well as loss and longing.
Quick recap: Afrikaans, my mother tongue, is a South African language developed from 17th century Dutch. It has adopted words from Malay, Khoisan and Bantu languages, but 90% of its vocabulary is of Dutch origin. Yes, I understand Dutch (with a bit of effort) and Flemish (easily). Afrikaans has about 6 million native speakers.
Tomorrow we return our focus to Japan. Tonight, son…

Happy birthday, Mum!

Here's an August flower for you.  Not your beloved cherry blossoms, but your favourite colour. I miss you.


The ultimate guide to Kanda Myojin

I'm floundering. I don't know how to start a post about Kanda Myōjin (神田明神), because how do you choose a highlight from this collection below?
The decapitated head of a rebellious samurai who's still haunting Ōtemachi is buried in the vicinity, and his deified spirit is enshrined here.It's been called the world's geekiest shrine thanks to its proximity to otaku heaven Akihabara. The shrine has a Facebook, Twitter and LINE account.You can see some extremely generously endowed young ladies on the shrine's ema.It has a horse. A real horse. A tiny living breathing pony.Birds protect it against fire.
See my problem? Where do I start the ultimate guide to the ultimate shrine?




Why Kanda Myōjin?
Let's be boring and kick off with my own connection with Kanda Myōjin, which is very simple: I've always lived within walking distance of the shrine. My first four years in Tokyo were spent in Kanda, blissfully close to the book district Jinbōchō, and I frequently passed …

The Princess Who Loved Insects (updated)

My blog gets so many search keyword hits about this particular topic that I've decided to update an old post about the Japenese story The Princess Who Loved Insects(虫めづる姫君Mushi Mezuru Himegimi).

It's contained in Tales of the Riverside Middle Counselor (堤中納言物語Tsutsumi Chūnagon Monogatari), a collection of short stories written in the late Heian period. It focuses on the adventures of a young girl who refuses to make herself beautiful and play the courtship game. She doesn't blacken her teeth and pluck her eyebrows (as refined ladies did in those days); instead, she spends her time outdoors, playing with bugs and caterpillars.


I refer to her as Ms Mushi (Ms Insect).  A girl this tough is definitely not a prim prissy Miss, she's a ballsy Ms. She's my favourite Japanese heroine. She's strong, she's rebellious, she refuses to pretend, she ignores society's stupid rules that fetter women. You go, girl! Long live caterpillar eyebrows!

Donald Keene mentions in hi…

Hiking along the Mitake Valley in Okutama

I'm lying. Exaggerating. It's not hiking; it's walking.

As a matter of fact, the Mitake Valley Riverside Trail has given me a new definition of walking vs hiking: if you encounter vending machines along the way, it's walking, not hiking.
I've done several hikes in Okutama, but I'm going to start with this walk because anybody can do it. It's exceptionally beautiful, truly pleasant and very easy. You don't need to be an experienced hiker, you don't need hiking boots, you don't need energy drinks – or Scotch – to keep going.

It starts at Ikusabata Station on the Ōme Line, follows the Tama River and ends about 5 km upstream. It took me about two hours of slow walking, many photos, frequent diversions and arbitrary stops to enjoy the autumn colours.
Let's do this section by section. Warning: this post is photo-heavy!
Ikusabata to Sawai

It takes 90 minutes from Tokyo Station. Take the Chūō Line to Ōme, transfer to the Ōme Line and get off at Ikusab…

The princess who loved insects

Edit added 8 May 2013: This post receives so many keyword search hits for "The Princess Who Loved Insects" that I've published an updated post (with extra information) that focuses on the book. Click here to read it.)

Blogging has been an interesting experiment. I initially started two blogs, Rurousha for personal musings and Sanpokatagata for factual stories accompanied by photos. I've now decided I'll do all stories on this blog, regardless of the content, and turn Sanpo into a supplementary photo blog. I'm not sure it's a good idea, since I'm not a good photographer at all, but let's see how it goes.
It occurred to me that "nomad" is not the ideal name for my blog. I don't wander anymore; I want to live in Japan forever and ever amen till death do us part. Then I remembered that I've already stayed in six different apartments in Tokyo and although most of my income is derived from one company, I've been based in three diff…

Edo wind chimes: air con for your soul

Have you noticed that Japan has a thing about bells?
Watch people's phones: every second phone charm has a little bell that jingles with the slightest movement. There are bells on doors and bells at shrines and bells at temples. There are bells on traditional hair ornaments called bira-bira kanzashi, bamboo chimes tuned DFGA for your garden, bells are a symbol of peace (link) and their sound echoes the impermanence of all things (link).
From which one could correctly deduce that peace is ever transient.
Now, before I get sidetracked down a thousand rabbit holes, let’s focus on the real topic: bells, yes, but specifically wind chimes or fūrin(風鈴).

I would not to mine own self be true if I didn't include a little history lesson. Here we go:
The oldest wind chimes found at archeological sites in South East Asia are 5000 years old. These early versions were made from wood, bones and shells; and were probably used to keep birds out of cultivated fields and/or to ward off evil spirits.
C…

Yotsuya Kaidan, Japan's favourite ghost story

Kaidan! Ghost stories! You ready?
August is the month of Obon (お盆), a Buddhist festival that honours ancestral spirits, who are believed to return to their birthplaces in this week.  Since otherworldly beings are wandering about, it's also the perfect time for ghost stories or kaidan.
Kaidan (怪談) consists of two kanji: 怪 (kai) meaning "strange, mysterious or bewitching apparition" and 談 (dan) meaning"talk"or "recited narrative". It's a slightly old-fashioned word that conjures up tales from the Edo era, and we're going to start our August Kaidan Series with an old Edo tale of murder, betrayal and revenge that remains the most famous ghost story in Japan.
It's called Yotsuya Kadain (四谷怪談), and it proves that "heavenhas norage like love to hatred turned, norhellafury like a woman scorned".¹ It's roughly based on a real event: a woman called Oiwa² married a man called Tamiya Iuzaemon, but after their divorce, various misfortunes be…

Bush clover, the flower of autumn

It's a modest plant, easy to overlook, yet it used to be Japan's most beloved flower.

Bush clover (ハギ, hagi) is mentioned in 141* poems in the Manyōshū (万葉集, Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), Japan's first anthology of poetry, compiled in the 8th century. That far exceeds the 119 poems about the second-most popular flower, plum blossoms. The latter was revered as an exotic import from China; the former was praised for its rustic simplicity.

Bush clover grows about 3 m in height and has long, slender branches that droop across paths. The branches represent feminine elegance, but it's also a symbol of vigour thanks to its ability to produce young shoots from old stock. It flowers in September, when summer's heat lingers, but it's believed that if you can see dew drops on the plant's small green leaves, you know that autumn is near.

Nowadays the flower attracts little attention. There aren't any good bush clover viewing spots in Tokyo that I know of, apart…