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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.


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.



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

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


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, Chūō-Oohashi and Sky Tree seen from Kachidoki


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.


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