Spotlight on the Kachidoki Bridge

Spotlight on the Kachidoki Bridge

by Armand Vaquer

The Sumida River is one of Tokyo's major rivers that flows through the Shitamachi area (old downtown). The river is crossed by 27 bridges for use by pedestrians and cars, including expressways, and 24 bridges can be crossed by pedestrians.

Among those, the Kachidoki Bridge is especially unique. In Godzilla (1954), the Kachidoki Bridge was toppled over by Godzilla during his nighttime raid on Tokyo.

It is the closest bridge to Tokyo Bay in the lower Sumida River. The Kachidoki Bridge was erected in 1940 to commemorate the victory of the former Japanese army in the battle of Lushun during the Russo-Japanese War (kachidoki means "a shout of victory" in Japanese). The bridge is 246-meters long, 22-meters wide and is the only double-leaf bascule bridge over the Sumida, which is designed to open from the center by raising each leaf about 70 degrees. Powered by electricity, each opening/closing operation took about 70 seconds. The bridge was opened five times a day for about 20 minutes each and gathered visitors who watched the operation.

Until motorization began and highways were built, the rivers had been the major route for Tokyo's urban transportation. The area where the Kachidoki Bridge is located was formerly lined by a number of warehouses and was busy with large freighters.

As the overland traffic increased during the postwar high-growth period and the number of freighters diminished, the bridge stopped its operation in 1970 and has been closed since then. Former control rooms are still found and old traffic lights on top of the rooms remind us of the days when cars were stopped every time the bridge opened.

Along the Sumida River today, a new riverside walkway named Sumidagawa Terrace has been installed and attracts people who enjoy walking while admiring the riverfront view of high-rise buildings and bridges. A tour via water bus through the Shitamachi area is also popular for tourists. I took this tour in 2005.

Water Bus stops on the Sumida are available in Asakusa, Hama-rikyu Gardens, and Hinode Pier. While on the boat cruise down the Sumida River, I got a shot (above) of the Kachidoki Bridge from Tokyo Bay as the boat approached the Hama-riku Gardens boat dock.

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan will direct you on how to get to the bridge if you elect not to take a Sumida River cruise. The cruise is worth it as the boat will go underneath the Kachidoki Bridge.

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