A district of Tokyo, Japan. Shinbashi (新橋, occasionally romanized shimbashi) means "New Bridge", but not only has the bridge disappeared, the entire Shiodome river it used to cross now runs in a concrete viaduct deep underground and out of sight. Nothing much happened in these parts until 1872, when Shinbashi -- being within walking distance from Ginza -- became the terminus of the Tokyo-Yokohama railroad, the first in the country. Shinbashi instantly turned into the epicenter of the Meiji movement for modernization. Among others, a little company called Eastern Grass (東芝, perhaps better known these days as Toshiba) opened up a telegraph factory in 1875. In 1882, the road connecting Ginza and Shinbashi was paved with brick and a horse-drawn streetcar service started to operate.

Alas, after a few decades of boom things started to go downhill, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 took its toll and while the Ginza Line subway reached Shinbashi in 1939, Japan's plunge into World War II promptly reversed any progress. As happened in Yokohama, by the time Shinbashi staggered back to its feet, the action had moved elsewhere -- probably the biggest company still remaining in Shinbashi is the bizarre yak-worshipping cult tasty fermented milk product producer Yakult.

These days, Shinbashi is above all an important train junction. A major station on the JR Yamanote Line and the Keihin Line (the modern-day successor of the 1872 Tokyo-Yokohama line), Shinbashi is also connected by the Eidan Ginza and Toei Asakusa Line subways and -- most fun of all! -- is the terminus of the Yurikamome New Transport, the funky all-robotic mutant offspawn of a monorail, a bus and and a train that trundles out across Tokyo Bay into the Techno Wonderland of Odaiba. Above, below and around the station is the obligatory shopping center, although there is nothing particularly remarkable about it.

Shinbashi's importance as a transport hub is only set to increase in 2003 when the new Shinkansen terminal and Toei O-Edo line station in immediately adjoining Shiodome open for service. Oddly enough, the new terminal is built in the same location as the long-gone 1872 station, and the old station will in fact be reconstructed as a museum! The area was used as a freight terminal for over 100 years, but the lot has recently been vacated and Japanese real estate developers have been falling over themselves in coming up with increasingly megalomaniacal ways to fill it. It has now been decided that the end result will be no less than 10 skyscrapers at an estimated price tag of $6 billion, including the Tokyo Twin Parks project, who are now building two immense 50-story luxury apartment buildings on the site. (See www.shiodome.com for details and http://www.shiodomecitycenter.com/shiodomeproject.html for a nice CG picture of how well the new buildings blend in.)

But it'll be a few years until any of this materializes, so for time being Shinbashi's one major attraction is the Hama Rikyu Teien (Hama Detached Palace Garden), an expansive Imperial garden now open to the public. Half the fun of Hama Rikyu is getting there, as the garden faces the sea and you can also take the ferry from Asakusa down the Sumida River. West of Shinbashi lies the world-famous Ginza and east is the Tsukiji fish market, but these have already been noded separately. Shinbashi is also not too bad a place to crash after a wild geisha-filled night in Ginza, as there are a number of capsule hotels in the vicinity.

go to another station on the Yamanote Line

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