A district of Tokyo
(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
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
, 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
. In 1882
, the road connecting Ginza and Shinbashi
was paved with brick and a horse-drawn streetcar
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
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
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