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Shinbashi Station

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  • Built: 1871
  • Japanese: 新橋駅 (Shinbashi eki)

Shinbashi, in Tokyo, was one of the first train stations in Japan. While the old station buildings have been reconstructed as historical architecture, a new Shinbashi Station located a short distance away remains a major transportation hub today.

During the Edo period and into the Meiji period, the area around Shinbashi (lit. "new bridge") was home to a number of geisha houses, including the famous Tamagawaya.[1] The bridge which crossed the Shiodome-gawa (Shiodome River) there was known as "Shinbashi," or "New Bridge." A large gate known as Shibaguchi-gomon was constructed in 1710 at the northern end of the bridge, at the urging of shogunal advisor Arai Hakuseki, who felt that it would add to the grandeur of the city and of the shogunate in the eyes of foreign envoys who passed through the gate on their way up to Edo castle.[2] The bridge was renamed Shibaguchi-bashi ("Bridge at the Entrance to Shiba") for a time, but returned to being called Shinbashi after the gate was lost in a fire in 1724/1 and not rebuilt. The bridge was removed in 1964.[3]

Located in the Shiodome neighborhood, Shinbashi Station served originally as a terminus, and incorporated blast furnaces, foundries, and the like to help in the service and repair of locomotives and train cars. Shiodome was served by the Tamagawa waterworks throughout much of the Edo period, and this availability of water was essential for these industrial purposes.[4]

The station was completed in 1871, and opened in 1872, as Japan's first train line linking Yokohama (Sakuragichô Station) and Shinagawa was extended to Shinbashi. Opening ceremonies for the newly extended line, held in 1872/9, were presided over by the Meiji Emperor himself. The line, and the station, then went on to see numerous prominent figures, including foreign dignitaries such as Ulysses S. Grant and David Kalakaua, who first arrived in Tokyo at Shinbashi, via trains from Yokohama. Edward Sylvester Morse is also said to have discovered, or first noticed, the Omori shellmound while on a train to Shinbashi in June 1877.

An express train route between Shinbashi and Kobe was established in 1896.

References

  1. "36 historical photographs of geisha and apprentice geisha beauties," RocketNews24.com, 20 Jan 2014.
  2. Watanabe Hiroshi, A History of Japanese Political Thought, 1600-1901, International House of Japan (2012), 148.
  3. Plaque at former site of Shibaguchi Gate.
  4. Gallery labels, "Excavated Shiodome site," Edo-Tokyo Museum, July 2013.
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