In Tokyo, the modernity of skyscrapers meets the tranquility of traditional gardens, and the bustling streets merge with serene waterfronts. While iconic destinations like Shibuya and Shinjuku often steal the spotlight, Tokyo is a city filled with hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Today, let’s embark on a journey to uncover two lesser-known yet charming neighborhoods: Kachidoki and Harumi.

From Reclaimed Land to High-Rise Living

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During the Meiji and Taisho periods, the majority of Kachidoki emerged as Tsukishima No. 2 reclaimed land, a result of the extensive “Tokyo Bay Miosarai Construction”. Additionally, remaining areas were established as the Tsukishima No. 3 landfill site during the “Tokyo Bay Mio Dredging Work”, or as the primary landfill site during the “Sumida Kawaguchi Improvement Work”. Initially, the absence of a bridge necessitated ferry transportation between Tsukiji and Kachidoki. It wasn’t until 1940 that the completion of Kachidoki Bridge connected these areas.

Originally an industrial hub with numerous factories and warehouses, the landscape transformed drastically with the inauguration of Kachidoki Station in 2000. Subsequently, the area witnessed a resurgence characterized by the construction of towering residential complexes.

In recent years, the Kachidoki/Tsukishima area has emerged as a sought-after residential destination, thanks to its excellent transportation links providing convenient access to key city hubs like Roppongi and Shinjuku. Moreover, its close proximity to Ginza and Nihonbashi, easily reachable on foot, adds to its allure. Here, one can relish in the authentic flavors of traditional gourmet cuisine along bustling shopping streets, while modern office complexes and towering apartments dot the skyline, a testament to ongoing redevelopment efforts.

Embracing both modernity and tradition, the Kachidoki area has seen the integration of new facilities alongside the preservation of ancient customs. Additionally, plans are underway to revitalize the former Tsukiji Market site, which concluded its illustrious 80-year history. Envisioned as a nexus for international exchange, the area will be transformed into a vibrant hub, fostering interaction among over 10,000 individuals. Central to this redevelopment scheme is the establishment of an international conference center complemented by a hotel, poised to elevate the district’s attractiveness to even greater heights.

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In April 1931, Tsukishima No. 4 was reclaimed as part of the third phase of Sumida River mouth improvement work. Plans to relocate Tokyo City Hall to this site (present-day Harumi) were proposed in 1933 but were met with opposition and eventually abandoned.

Post-World War II, Tsukishima was largely unscathed, while Harumi was under US military control until 1957. In the meantime, Harumi Wharf became Tokyo’s first foreign trade wharf and saw expansion by 1960. Harumi’s landscape evolved with the development of the Harumi housing complex and the emergence of hotels.

In the late 1980s, plans for Tokyo’s waterfront subcenter led to the establishment of Tokyo Big Sight in Ariake, leading to the closure of Harumi’s trade fair venue. The 2000s saw the redevelopment of the aging Harumi housing complex into Harumi Island Triton Square, alongside the opening of Kachidoki and Tsukishima stations on the Toei Oedo Line. Harumi Wharf remained a vital maritime hub, hosting Antarctic research ships and foreign passenger vessels until its closure in 2022. Additionally, the completion of Harumi Ohashi Bridge facilitated connectivity with neighboring areas, while the opening of the expressway enhanced accessibility to the Bayside Line, Tsukiji, and Shiodome areas.

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Kachidoki Bridge

Kachidoki Bridge stands as a symbol of triumph and engineering marvel along the Sumida River, boasting distinction as the most renowned among the 27 bridges that span its waters. Just a brief stroll from Kachidoki Station, this iconic structure holds the title of being the nearest bridge to Tokyo Bay. Its inception in 1940 was a commemoration of Japan’s victory in the pivotal battle of Lushun during the Russo-Japanese War, hence its name, which translates to “a shout of victory” in Japanese.

Stretching 246 meters in length and spanning 22 meters in width, Kachidoki Bridge boasts a unique design as a double-leaf bascule bridge. Each leaf, weighing approximately 900 tons, is capable of lifting to an impressive 70-degree angle, facilitated by 1,100-ton counterweights. This intricate mechanism allows for swift rotation, opening the center of the bridge to accommodate passing vessels. Initially, during the heyday of river transportation in Tokyo until 1953, the bridge swung open five times daily for 20-minute intervals. However, with the rise of land-based transport, particularly highways, maritime traffic dwindled, leading to a decline in the bridge’s operational frequency. By 1970, Kachidoki Bridge had ceased opening altogether, marking the end of its functional drawbridge era.

Despite its static state, Kachidoki Bridge continues to captivate admirers, especially when illuminated against the night sky. From the vantage point of Sumida River Terrace, a beloved riverside promenade, the bridge’s illuminated silhouette casts a mesmerizing glow, offering a picturesque scene for all who stroll along the waterfront.

The Kachidoki Bridge Museum

Nestled adjacent to the iconic Kachidoki Bridge, the Kachidoki Bridge Museum stands as a quaint tribute to the bygone era when the bridge was a bustling hub of activity. At the base of the bridge on the Tsukiji side stands a structure that once served as an electric power substation, integral to the operation of the bridge’s bascules. Following the cessation of bridge raising operations, the substation underwent a transformation, serving briefly as a storage facility. However, in 2005, it was reborn with a new purpose as a museum. Today, visitors can explore this renovated space, marveling at authentic equipment from the bridge on display. Additionally, intricate models depicting various bridge components offer insight into the engineering prowess behind these structures. Moreover, the museum provides valuable information about other bridges traversing the Sumida River, enriching visitors’ understanding of Tokyo’s architectural landscape.

Upon entering the museum, guests are greeted with a captivating video presentation on the first floor, providing insights into the intricate structure and operation of Kachidoki Bridge. Ascending to the upper floor reveals a treasure trove of artifacts meticulously curated to showcase the bridge’s history, including original control panels, weather log books, and vintage traffic lights. The museum also hosts a captivating 1:100 scale diorama illustrating the process of a ship passing beneath the raised bridge.

Open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the museum invites visitors to embark on a journey through time, free of charge.

Harumi’s Evolution: From Olympic Dreams to Urban Transformation

In the lead-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government proposed building the main stadium in Harumi. However, concerns arose regarding the distance between the stadium and the nearest train station. To address this issue, Chuo Ward announced plans in 2010 to construct a tram line connecting Ginza and Harumi. Regrettably, the bid failed, leading to the abandonment of the stadium construction plan.

For the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Harumi was designated as the location for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Village. Post-Games, the area has undergone transformation into “HARUMI FLAG”, featuring residential development, facility renovations, and the construction of new high-rise condominiums.

Although plans to extend the Yurikamome New Transit line toward Kachidoki Station and proposals for rail-based transportation in Harumi were discussed, these initiatives never materialized. In 2022, a new metropolitan/waterfront area subway concept was proposed.

Harumi is also home to the Tokyo Katsuobushi Center, where bonito flakes are traded by the Tokyo Katsuobushi Wholesale Commercial Cooperative Association. Formerly, the site housed a housing exhibition hall and the Japan Furniture Center, a large furniture showroom.

Before the introduction of residential markings, the name Harumi (晴海) was chosen with a vision inspired by the aspiration to “gaze upon a perpetually sunlit ocean”.