Have you heard about a bridge, built on a river within the city, opens for ships to pass through and the traffic comes to a stop on both sides of the bridge for the same. NO we are not talking about the Tower Bridge in London, but the Kachidoki Bridge in Tokyo!!! Unfortunately the bridge no longer opens and it was the 1970’s when it stopped the action. Just reflecting to the London Tower Bridge, full marks in making it a well known attraction and retaining the bridge’s open-close function.
I learned about the Kachidoki Bridge in 2001, while reading the Japanese comic book Kochi-Kame. The main character, a middle-aged police officer called Kankichi Ryotsu, talks about his childhood when he spent his time with friends on the banks of Sumida River watching the drawbridge swing upwards, bringing the traffic on either sides of the bridge to a halt and letting the ships pass. One shot from the “Open the Kachidoki Bridge” story…
The “non-opening” Kachidoki Bridge today : Kachidoki Bridge is the only drawbridge built on Sumida River in the 1940’s. It was constructed to commemorate the victory of the Japanese army during the Russian-Japanese War. In the post-war years until 1970’s, the bridge was operated by electricity and it used to take about 70 seconds to open or close. It required a total of 20 minutes to open and allow the ships to pass through, which was a routine for nearly five times a day. As the use of freight ships decreased, due to the improvement of alternative infrastructure like highways, the dependency on the bridge decreased as well and in 1970 it opened only once. Since then the bridge has stayed closed and never reopened.
In the comic book Kankichi Ryotsu talks about his adventures as a child and how they force open the bridge for nostalgia’s sake with some strong story-telling. The bridge is just a 10 minute walk from the famous tourist location Tsukiji Fish Market and the night time green light illumination is very impressive. Crossing the bridge I noticed the two leaves, which used to be lifted to a 70 degree angle, and I thought how nice it would be if the bridge would reopen someday.
We seriously believe that for Tourism sake Tokyo should consider opening Kachidoki Bridge a couple of times a day and make it a tourism attraction on the lines of the Tower Bridge… Enjoy the full res action of the Tower Bridge opening and closing which we shot a few months back in London.
At Kachidoki Bridge, interested travelers can go to the museum on the bridge which is open from 9:30am to 4:30pm every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There is no entry fee. There are groups in Japan which have been demanding the reopening of the bridge although as an event and it has been in consideration for a long time.
Walking on the bridge at night, one can view passing ships below the bridge. The trails can be captured with a slow shutter speed shot on a SLR camera and you can see many enthusiasts with their gear near the river side.
A ship passing below
On the bridge itself, one can also view the Tokyo Tower in the distance from the bridge as below
Traffic on the Kachidoki Bridge at night
If you take the tourist cruises from Asakusa, you will be taken on a ride to see all the bridges on the Sumida River and Kachidoki Bridge is one of those. Here the Ship after it passes below the Kachidoki Bridge on the way to the final location of Rainbow Bridge.