Is Tokyo's Azumabashi bridge too red?

Is Tokyo's Azumabashi bridge too red?
People cross Azumabashi bridge near Sensoji temple in the Asakusa district in Taito Ward, Tokyo. Tokyo Skytree and the headquarters of Asahi Breweries, Ltd. are visible in the background.

JAPAN - Is the bridge too red? Color and architecture experts are debating whether the 132-meter Azumabashi bridge in Tokyo's Asakusa district-across the Sumidagawa river near Sensoji temple in Taito Ward-has too bright of a red hue.

The bridge is located about 100 meters east of the famed Sensoji temple and will be repainted soon. As the color deviates from a standard set by the local government, some people insist the bridge should be painted in a different color. A symposium to contemplate the bridge's color has been held, and the issue may develop into a landscaping debate involving local residents and various other parties.

The original Azumabashi bridge was built in the Edo period (1603-1867), but burned down in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. In 1931, the Tokyo city government built the current bridge with its triple arches.

The current color was chosen in 1993 by the Tokyo metropolitan government's project to improve famous bridges, designed to make the colors of the bridges over Sumidagawa "rich in regional flavor."

Shirahigebasi bridge was painted gray in keeping with its name, which means "gray beard." Kuramaebashi bridge was painted gold to invoke an image of rice stalks, because the Kuramae district once had many storehouses for rice.

Azumabashi bridge was repainted red from light blue as it is located close to the red Kaminarimon gate.

According to some experts, it is preferable for bridges to be repainted once every 10 years or so to help combat weathering of the paint. Azumabashi bridge was last repainted in 2003, which means it is past due for a repaint.

The Landscape Law enforced in 2005 requires construction business operators to submit an application to the local government in charge when a structure of a certain size is to be repainted extensively. Azumabashi is located in both the Taito and Sumida wards.

Each of the two wards later compiled their own landscapes project, with their own color standards. According to Taito Ward's landscape project, the color to be reported should "be as neutral as possible in terms of brightness and saturation so that the color will not stand out from the surrounding landscape."

Azumabashi bridge's color saturation level, or the degree of its intensity, is 12-much higher than the level 4 or lower set by both the Taito and Sumida wards as color standards for bridges.

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