I took a stroll on the Nihonbashi bridge after watching a TV programme which explained the history behind this bridge. The centre of the bridge is the Zero milestone/ Kilometre zero for Tokyo i.e the distance to other cities from Tokyo is measured from this point. It was interesting to know that the area around the bridge is named after the bridge.
日本橋(Nihombashi/Nihonbashi) –>日本 (Nihon)- Japan, 橋 (Hashi)- Bridge.
Zero Milestone in Japan
Nihonbashi Bridge was built in 1603 and designated by the Edo Shogunate government as the starting point of five major roads in Japan. The present Nihonbashi Bridge built in the Renaissance style in 1911, is a double-arched bridge made of stone. The calligraphy engraving “Nihonbashi” on the plaques on each of the four newel posts is based on the work of Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the last Shogun. In 1972, the original “Zero Milestone of Tokyo City”, formerly located in the middle of Nihonbashi Bridge was transferred to this square for preservation and replaced by a memorial plaque. The characters “Zero Milestone of Japan” on the plaque were taken from the writing of the then Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Eisaku Sato.
Both “Zero Milestone of Tokyo City” and Nihonbashi Bridge, which celebrated its eighty-eighth anniversary in 1999, are designated important cultural assets of Japan.
The engraving “Nihonbashi” in Hiragana and Kanji
The highway built above definitely spoils the beauty of this stone bridge and also the river below. It’s now dark with no sunlight. This highway was built hastily before the 1964 Summer Olympic games. It is said that, before the construction of the expressway, the Mt.Fuji was clearly visible from the bridge. There is a petition from a number of people for the removal of the highway.
The first Mitsukoshi store was started near Nihonbashi bridge. It was founded by the Mitsui family in 1673 and was formerly known as Echigoya.
Here are some interesting pictures of Nihonbashi: