Thursday, 23 February 2012

White Beard/Moustache Bridge

Shirahigebashi or Shirahige bridge. A few comments from those in Japan piqued my interest about this bridge and I started snooping around (more like just googling about it. heh) and am fascinated by what I read.

The steel bridge; constructed in 1928 and completed in 1931, is featured in The Sixteen Great Bridges of Tokyo postcard series.

It is also one of the recommended spot to view Sumida summertime fireworks.
And someday, I must visit Shirahige-jinja. I believe that's where the origin of the name of this bridge was derived from? Yes? No?

Founded in 951, Shirahige-jinja was rebuilt countless of times and the last wooden structure that stood there was built in 1864 only to be burned down in 1989 (wow! that recent?) by political activists who were against the succession of Emperor Akihito.

Now... why is Shirahige-jinja called Shirahige-jinja? Rurousha darling - any idea? Seeing that you've visited Shirahige-jinja last year. ^^

Anyway, there is a lovely ukiyo-e (woodblock print) titled Snow at Shirahige by Kawase Hasui in 1920, as one of Twelve Scenes of Tokyo series but it is a decade before the steel bridge was completed. It was of a view towards the Imado ferry from the foot of Shirahige Bridge.

I wonder what/how the bridge looked like in 1920 or the wooden bridge that was built with the money of the people of the area prior to the steel bridge?


  1. It is still a great looking bridge and I bet the summer fireworks are spectacular to see over the bridge :)

    Japan Australia

    1. I bet it does! Would've love the chance to view it someday but so far, we have yet get the chance to travel during the period. ;)

  2. The moustache bridge looks like a chicken leg! Yummi! :D

  3. Looks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge lah!
    The mini version, of course.

    There's also another one bridge that looks like this in Singapore.
    Can't recall its name now.

    1. Can see plenty of this type of bridge around Japan too. ^^

    2. Funny, we really have this type of bridge in Malaysia.
      Seen some for railway.
      But none for cars, huh?

    3. That's so true! How come I never took notice!

      See how much I take my own country for granted! ;p

      But then, bridges for cars are quite nice like Penang Bridge or the bridges in Putrajaya. ^^

  4. Oops. I don't know. I have no idea what the origin of "shirahige" is. Digging into a word's etymology is a bit beyond my very limited Japanese skills, so I'm hoping Minor or Cocomino will gallop to the rescue! :D If not, oh well, I did unmask Asakusa's gang of robbers, so maybe I can solve the mystery of the moustache, too. ^^

    1. *WAIL* How can you not? You know everything about "my" beloved shitamachi!

      And yes, you unmasked the robbers. I have total faith in you.^^

    2. Guess what?! It's taken me two months, but ...

      About 1500 Korean settlers came to Japan yonks ago, from roughly 670 to roughly 720. They built shrines in honour of their king Fukutoku, who was depicted as a person with white hair and a white beard. As time passed, these shrines came to be known as Shirahige, Japanese for "white beard". The most famous Shirahige Shrine was at the Sumida River, and that's where the name of the bridge comes from.

      I read this in a very old book called "Things Japanese" by Mock Joya, and I haven't verified it via any other sources. However, the Korea-Shirahige link is a fact, and the rest of the story makes a lot of sense, so ...

      There you go! :D

      I remain your faithful servant -
      Jungle Woman in Tokyo

    3. I am eternally grateful and indebted for the information.

      From the bottom of my heart - thank you. ^^

      Now... why did those 1500 Korean came to Japan? Did they come willingly or were they taken to Japan for their expertise in whatever field they were in? I need to search about King Fukutoku too.

      And I'm distracted enough to update my own blogs as it is.

    4. They came voluntarily, or by invitation, but it wasn't forced. They were Buddhist priests, metal workers, leather workers, painters and artisans; and as such they contributed greatly to Musashi's culture (the province where they settled) during the reigns of emperors Temmu, Jitoku and Tensho.

      Wouldn't that make a great NHK drama?!

      All that info from the same book as above.

      PS: Apparently there's still a temple in Kokubunji where you can see the Koreans' original foundation stones. I'll go on a recce asap. ^^

    5. A 1958 book! How did you come across it? You scoured the University's library and turned it upside down?

      You have my admiration.

      Not only great for NHK drama but for KBS too. They should totally do a joint-venture and make a historical drama about it. Imagine all the hot Japanese & Koreans actors that they can stuff in it. *heaven*

      p.s. Please provide detailed report of the trip as humanly as possible. Your urgent attention into this matter is greatly appreciated.

      Yours faithfully,
      Demanding reader

    6. I found that book in Jinbocho. There is no book you can NOT find in Jinbocho, provided you're not allergic to dust and are compulsive-obsessive enough about books to go through hundreds of haphazard shelves. :D

      Hot Japanese men and hot Korean men in one drama? Swoon!

      I'll do that recce. Promise! I'm not even sure where the temple is yet. I may have to go to Jinbocho again, to unearth more old maps. Yeee-ha! ^^

  5. Thank you very much, I could learn many things about Tokyo from your blog.
    I only knew that all of bridges were destroied by Great Kanto earthquake of 1923. As the reconstruction work,the government and Tokyo city worked together. At that time Technical experts intended to make each bride would be a different shape. At that time They had a sense of beauty.
    On the contrary, each Shinkansen railroad station was made almost the same. Many people would say the JR technical experts had lost the sense of beauty.

    1. Maybe because when the JR technical experts are more worried about the extra cost incurred by designing each differently.

    2. I would also guess that JR also had no money anyways because like most major projects, probably came close to, or over their budget. That or maybe even due to time constraints as it had to open in time for the Olympics. Take your pick but I couldn't find any useful information. :)

    3. Probably all of the above. Thanks Dru! :)

  6. Well written. People in a nearby this bridge made a company for build and maintanance this bridge and the company gathered money people passing the bridge in the past. I also searched it on the internet. :)

  7. I read about the tolled bridge too. :)

    Good thing that now tolled bridges are for vehicles and not pedestrians. :)


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