Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bridges and Weddings

Tokyo, Japan (May 22, 2012)

The Sumida river is now crossed by 14 bridges, and during our boat tour we crossed many of them. Some of the bridges are quite low above the water, and in a few instances I had the instinct of lowering my head as I was passing below them (I was on the open bridge on the top level of the boat). Bridge making was apparently a big issue in Tokyo. Before the main branch of the Arakawa river was diverted from the course of what is now the Sumida river, flooding was common. Add that to the risk of fires, and is clear how in old times the wooden bridges of Tokyo were not particularly long lasting. All this changed at the end of the XIX century, with the development of modern metallurgy. The first modern bridge was erected in 1874 of wrought-iron girders. Now all the bridges are made of steel and concrete, with the last wooden bridge replaced in 1911.

After the boat tour we went to the Happo-en restaurant. The food was good, but Happo-en means "garden of eight views" and the highlight of the place is actually it beautiful garden. Its central pond is home of many voracious koi fishes of unusual size. I wrote voracious because I was watching when one of the restaurant employee was feeding them: I know that koi fishes are not piranhas, but after seeing the resulting feeding frenzy I made sure not to fall into the water. The place is a favorite spot for wedding banquets, and we saw many couples taking wedding photos in the garden. Most of them in western style attire, but a few wearing traditional japanese dressing, like the couple in the picture on the left.

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