Nihonbashi Bridge

The spiritual centre of Tokyo's rise in affluence

By Sleiman Azizi    - 2 min read

Flooded with cash, 1980s Japan was a supercharged economy that saw the country build almost anything and everything. Laced with wealth, spurred on by the promise that anything was possible, Japan's construction boom touched the entire country.

Huge highway and expressway projects popped up everywhere and one of the most curious of projects was the one that saw the Shuto Expressway being built to literally run above the famous Nihonbashi Bridge.

The bridge prior to World War 2 (Photo: urbzoo)
The bridge prior to World War 2 (Photo: urbzoo)

The bridge is a direct link back to the city's Edo history. The first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was to said to have ordered its construction as a focal point for all of the major thoroughfares leading into and out of the city. Distances throughout the country were measured from the bridge, effectively becoming the nation's cartological zero point. Much like the expressway above the current bridge, Nihonbashi Bridge was an expression of the wealth and authority of the shogunate's new capital, Edo.

Nihonbashi Bridge in the Edo Period (Photo: Wikipedia, Creative Commons)
Nihonbashi Bridge in the Edo Period (Photo: Wikipedia, Creative Commons)

The twin arch bridge currently standing was built in 1911, is made of stone and replaced the wooden one that had stood - barring the occasional earthquake and fire - for hundreds of years. So stately in design is Nihonbashi Bridge that it has been designated as an Important Cultural Property.

Nihonbashi Bridge today (Photo: Guilhem Vellut)
Nihonbashi Bridge today (Photo: Guilhem Vellut)

The bridge features four shishi lions at its corners, ostensibly protecting it from evil, whilst in the centre can be found a kirin statue, a sign of the sense of prosperity that the city was experiencing at the time of its construction over one hundred years ago.

Though expressway above it may be an eyesore, the bridge itself is not. Nihonbashi Bridge remains to this day the spiritual sign of Tokyo's historical affluence and progress.

Getting there

Take the Ginza or Hanzomon Lines to Mitsukoshimae Station for a 1-minute walk from Exit B5 or B6.

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Sleiman Azizi

Sleiman Azizi @sleiman.azizi

A Japanese Permanent Resident, I drool over proper soba and sushi while Japanese aesthetics ticks all the right boxes for me.With over 100 published articles on Japan as well as 5 English language books written in a traditional Japanese style, I also happen enjoy writing. Funny that...I'm also the Regional Partner for Tokyo, Japan's never ending capital, so if you've anything to say about Tokyo - or Japan in general - don't be shy and contact with me via

Join the discussion

Kim B a week ago
I love the cover picture actually! Something about the charming old bridge with the modern expressway over the top of it just appeals to me! I guess it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing place to put an expressway but I do think there’s something about the contrast that makes for really interesting photos. Even an interesting commentary about society overall, maybe!
Sleiman Azizi Author a week ago
While I would prefer to see the bridge sans expressway, the fact is that it is there and how it is looked at can be very interesting, just like the way you suggested. Kudos to photographer too!
Elena Lisina a week ago
I like Edo period's Nihonbashi bridge most! ; )
Elena Lisina a week ago
I'll write about Edo-Tokyo museum soon! ; )