Supporters aim to open bridge made for 1940 Olympics

Supporters aim to open bridge made for 1940 Olympics
Takashi Ito advocates raising Kachidokibashi bridge again.

Kachidokibashi bridge in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, one of Japan's largest movable bridges (See below) that is potentially capable of operation, has not been raised even once since 1970.

A movement has started to make it capable of opening again before it turns 80 years old in the year of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Though there are many hurdles, such as matters of traffic congestion and operating costs, some people are hopeful that the bridge might become a new tourism resource in the Olympic year.

Takashi Ito, 69, is a specialist in urban planning, a senior research fellow at Nihon University, and the representative of the committee to raise the Kachidokibashi bridge.

He speaks emphatically about the bridge: "Seeing the bridge's two leaves rising up together is a beautiful sight. Even if it were raised just the once, I'm certain it'd get attention as a new Tokyo attraction."

The Yomiuri Shimbun Bridging the mouth of the Sumidagawa river and connecting the Tsukiji and Tsukishima districts over a total length of about 245 meters, Kachidokibashi was completed in 1940.

It was meant to be the main gate for the Tokyo Expo and Tokyo Olympics in 1940, but conditions arising from the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) saw the cancellation of the Olympics and Expo.

The name has its origins in the Kachidoki Crossing, which was established on the Sumidagawa river in 1905. As "kachidoki" means "victory cry," it memorialized Japan's victory at Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War.

There were large warehouses and wharfs in the area, and the bridge was constructed so that the middle section, 44 meters in length, would split in two and tilt upward, allowing even large ships to pass. Its peak was in 1950, and it is said the bridge was raised 829 times that year, operating as often as five times a day.

However, during its operation cycle, cars would not be able to pass over for 20 to 30 minutes.

As the volume of vehicle traffic increased, boat traffic decreased so the bridge operated less and less, and it has stayed lowered since its final run on Nov. 29, 1970.

Local resident Toru Segawa, 70, remembers the cheer that rose up from the area when the bridge was raised for its final time. "There was a sense of loneliness, like an era had ended. I'd like to see that magnificent sight once more."

Even so, operating the bridge is not an easy thing. The bridge is part of Harumi-dori avenue, which stretches from Ginza to the seaside area, and traffic is always heavy.

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