Toyomi Bridge - Tokyo engineering heritage

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tokyo has a lot of rivers and canals, and many which once existed have now been filled in. This also means that Tokyo has a lot of bridges.

Toyomi Bridge from Minato Bridge, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.

As I was cycling through the Nihonbashi area in Tokyo's Chuo ward, the bridge pictured here caught my eye with its heavy, retro feel and its stark white coloring. I took the above photo from a bridge called Minato-bashi.

Toyomi Bridge spanning the Nihonbashi River, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.

I cycled a little further east to the bridge itself and discovered that it was a tangible cultural property of Chuo ward, as was explained on the following plaque.

Information board, Toyotomi Bridge, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.

The English translation (by us) goes as follows:

"Toyomi BridgeChuo Ward Cultural Property
Shinkawa 1-chome, Chuo Ward

Construction began on the current Toyomi Bridge in May 1926 and was completed in September 1927.

Toyomi Bridge crosses the Nihonbashi River, and is the closest bridge to where the Nihonbashi River flows into the Sumida as its tributary.

The Toyomi Bridge has a long history. There was a bridge here called the Toyomi Bridge (also known as the Otome Bridge) in the mid-Edo era. The surrounding area was called Shinborigashi where small cargo vessels from various provinces would unload their cargoes of sake bound for Edo (Tokyo's former name), and the river at that time was lined with white plaster-walled sake warehouses.

Toyomi Bridge became a steel bridge in the Meiji era, but collapsed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The Bureau of Reconstruction requested a new plan from a Yutaka Tanaka of the Engineering Department, although the drawing up of the actual plans was done by the young Takeo Fukuda (1902-1981). Out of consideration for the boat captains returning to port, he designed this bridge, closest to the confluence of the Nihonbashi and Sumida rivers, in a different way to make it stand out.

Takeo Fukuda proposed a Vierendeel bridge, and the finished result was this weighty-looking bridge across the river with the look of a laid-down ladder. There are only a few of its kind throughout Japan, making it an important heritage bridge for modern engineering, and as such it has been registered as a Tangible Ward Cultural Property.

Chuo Ward Education Committee
March 2003"

Here is what the majestic old bridge looks like closer up ...

Toyomi Bridge, close up, Chuo ward, Tokyo.

and below is a view of the confluence of the Nihonbashi River and the Sumida River that it feeds into.
Confluence of the Sumida and Nihonbashi rivers, Tokyo.


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