Thursday, October 27, 2005

Tokyo at Night 2- Bridges of Tokyo County

Blogger only allows you to put 5 photos in one article, so I decided to split my night photos into two sections, the second (ie this one) focussing on bridges in Tokyo.

Last night, sort of arbitrarily I decided to take a tour of Nihonbashi and the Sumida River's bridges. There are some very interesting bridges along the Sumida, and though unfortunately I didn't do a very good job of capturing them, you'll get the general idea. These are only a few of the bridges: I'll have to get the others later (they are farther away, and thus it takes more money to ride the train there).

First is Nihonbashi. When the Shogun moved his powerbase to Tokyo (then called Edo), all of the roads were measured from Nihonbashi, and this continues today. The Nihonbashi, unlike the other bridges in this collection, isn't over the Sumida river, but over a river nearer the imperial palace (during the Edo period the site of the Shogun's fortifications) called... Nihonbashi river. By the way, Nihonbashi means Japan bridge. I'm guessing that the river was called something else previously, but I don't know what it was. It's not such a great river, and like many of the rivers in Japan, there is an expressway directly above it, so is somewhat depressing. But history, history is the important thing here. And this bridge is very historical, with very interesting dragons that are a nice mix of Asian and Western dragons.

I realized recently why the streets in Tokyo are so small: they have no sidewalks. There are, of course, large thoroughfares with wide sidewalks, but, like this Nihonbashi alley, most do not.

Next I wandered towards the Sumida. The Sumida was once a particularly beautiful river, and I tried to imagine its former glory as walked along the promenade. Unfortunately now it is completely encased in concrete and is as much a man-made thing these days as is the Tokyo Metropolitan government building (a vaguely threatening, Gotham-looking building I have yet to visit). In spite of that, however, it is still a body of water and, as such, still very interesting. The promenade, too, does its best to forget that it is all just concrete, and it succeeds as best it can. It is pretty in its own way. I imagined to myself how beautiful it must be to watch the competing fireworks that take place over the Sumida every year, trying to forget that at one point the power and threat of a river was just as beautiful as safety and economic prosperity.

Anyway, it truly is beautiful there, especially looking at the bridges as you walk along the tamed river.

First ( that I saw, there are actually many more to the north of this bridge) is the Kiyohashi, fairly boring looking other than its lights illuminating it in purple.

Finally for this trip is the Eitai bridge, a cute little thing with a particularly impressive light display. The lights change over the course of the year, though I'm not sure what the pattern is. This bridge and the buildings behind it capture, I think, the influence of Tokyo on Blade Runner.

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