Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tokyo: Nihonbashi

Our trip to Tokyo last weekend turned to a “drive around Tokyo trip” thanks to the rain. We ended up driving past many areas which were not part of our original plan. One such place was Nihonbashi. On our way from Marunouchi and Ginza to Akihabara, we passed through Nihonbashi.
Nihonbashi, is an historical bridge which is built across the Nihonbashi river. The name which also means “Japan Bridge” as it was the eastern end of the Nakasendo and Tokaido roads which connected Kyoto and Edo ( today’s Tokyo). The mile zero marker for Japan’s national highway network since the early Edo period was originally set in the middle of the road across the Nihonbashi bridge. 
It is now mounted on a plinth at one end of the bridge. Even to this day, all road distances are measured from the centre of the bridge. 

 The earliest structure built in 1603 was a wooden bridge which was replaced with a stone bridge during the Meiji period. In the 1960’s, the bridge was covered with an expressway.
 Nihonbashi has been the centre of Japan’s trade and commerce over the centuries. In the 1600’s, Nihonbashi was chosen as the location for the  Edo branch (Tokyo was earlier known as Edo) of  “Echigoya”, a successful wholesale business. Echigoya was the predecessor for Japan’s first western style department store, which is now known as Mitsukoshi chain of department stores. The “Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi” store is the company’s flagship store and is thronged by locals and tourists alike.
The queues of car’s waiting for a parking space in the store runs through several blocks and many parking assistants can be seen guiding the customers’ cars as far as a kilometer away !
The store’s 7 storeyed main building was constructed in 1935 and was designated an historic structure in 1999 by the Tokyo Metropolitan. 

A 10 storeyed annexe building was constructed later and connects it to the main building on a few floors. Mitsukoshi is definitely a place to visit for high end shopping.

Another popular department store in the vicinity is Coredo Muromachi which was opened in 2010. The earlier Coredo store, known as Coredo Nihonbashi is closer to the bridge and was opened in 2004.

We passed by the Bank of Japan’s headquarters as we drove past Nihonbashi. Bank of Japan is Japan’s central bank and was established in 1882 and succeeded the First National Bank. 
The neo Baroque style stone building was designed in 1896.

 The Tokyo Stock Exchange is also located in Nihonbashi.

We also passed by Suidobashi on our way to Akihabara.

Access: Nihonbashi Station on the Ginza, Tozai and Asakusa Lines and Mitsukoshimae station on the Hanzomon and Ginza lines are the closest stations for reaching central Nihonbashi. Nihonbashi can also be reached by a 10 minute walk from Tokyo station’s Nihonbashi exit. 

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