Rainbow Bridge’s wondrous walkways harbor inner city views


The Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo Bay is a symbol of the capital, but it is less known that the walkways of the suspension span offer great ocean views fringed by skyscrapers, including an island fortress built in the 19th century to defend against the American Black Ships that ended Japan’s isolationism.

The bridge has a two-deck structure. The walkways are on the lower deck, along with the automated Yurikamome train line, while the upper deck is part of the Shuto Expressway.

Shibaura Anchorage, about five minutes’ walk from Shibaura Futo Station on the Yurikamome Line, is the entrance to the walkways, which are free of charge and open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. between April and October and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. between November and March.

People jog, admire the view and take pictures of such landmarks as Tokyo Tower and the Roppongi Hills complex while exploring the walkways, which run on the north and south sides of the bridge. In the central parts, the walkways are about 50 to 60 meters above sea level.

Pedestrians can also see areas with signs of a changing Tokyo. Ariake is slated to host several competitions in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The new Toyosu fish market will open in November this year after it replaces the aging Tsukiji market.

Another feature visible from the 1.7-km walkways is the Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal. The athletes’ village will be built in the area for the 2020 Games.

Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest broadcasting tower at 634 meters, can be seen hemmed in by skyscrapers, while airplanes swoop into Haneda airport and cranes tower over Oi Wharf.

The south side of the walkways offers views of the popular Odaiba area and Fuji Television’s headquarters. But in between the glittery districts and the bridge lies a small man-made island, Daisan Daiba (No. 3 Battery), built in 1854 by the Tokugawa shogunate.

The previous year, U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry’s Black Ships arrived, putting an end to Japan’s policy of isolationism and opening its ports to trade.

In an effort to protect Edo, which was how Tokyo was known at the time, from potential attack by Perry, a number of island fortresses were quickly built in the bay, including Daisan Daiba, to host cannon batteries.

The walkways are closed every third Monday and on strong wind days.

  • Sasori

    Clearly the writer doesn’t understand that ‘inner city’ is a euphemism for impoverished neighborhoods.
    Also, the attempt to swoon the reader with ‘swooping airplanes’ comes off as juvenile.

    • At Times Mistaken

      I believe you’re right on the money about the phrase “inner city.” In a recent column for the Baltimore Sun, that paper’s night editor, John McIntyre writes that “the phrase is a code for saying that poor people, probably black, live there.” I just wonder if that meaning applies only in the American context and if maybe other English-speaking countries use the phrase to mean, perhaps what it once meant in the U.S., “downtown” or the “center of the city.”

    • GBR48

      Inner city is used in British English to refer to generally poorer, rougher central areas of cities, typically made up of residential tower blocks, the middle classes having left for the suburbs.

      Japan doesn’t have Western-style cities, so there is no reason for the term ‘Inner City’ to have the uses is has garnered in the West. That, together with the story originating from Kyodo News, a nonprofit cooperative news agency based in Tokyo, leads me to feel that your critique is rather harsh.

      • Sasori

        So, (presumably) a writer is cutting his teeth at a non-profit and she/he shouldn’t get any criticism at all? Because when the person attempts to get a paying job in the profession everything is going to be cotton candy and marshmallows?

        Your comment suggests that there is no application for the term ‘inner city’ in Tokyo. Regardless, ignorance is not strength. Since the writer is writing for an international audience, he should’ve done some research.

        Also, having lived near international airports for the majority of my life, I can tell you that ‘swooping’ is the last word I would use to describe such extremely noisy and polluted localities. In fact, if the word does come to use, it’s as a description of panic.

        Clearly, this was supposed to be a lofty and poetic fluff piece, like the type usually found in other developed countries right around ‘tourist season’. What it was doing in Japan Times is curious, since we’re already here; we don’t need any sales pitch.

        Also, someone who should’ve caught this horribly titled article before it was published seems to agree, since the article has either been pulled or re-titled.

      • GBR48

        I merely pointed out that as ‘Japan doesn’t have Western-style cities … there is no reason for the term ‘Inner City’ to have the uses is has garnered in the West.’ Not that it had no use at all.

        The article has not been removed. The click-throughs on e-mails noting replies rarely work.

        I stand by my concise comments.

    • silentcinderella7

      Why would you assume the phrase means the same in Japan? Clearly you don’t understand cultural differences. I’m Australian, and I wouldn’t think that at all – inner city simply means the inner most part, the centre, the central area, of a city.
      I do agree the comment about planes wasn’t that great.

      • Sasori

        Congratulations! Australia has the gold standard of inner cities. Apparently, you’ve never heard of The Barrio, Hackney, The tenderloin or even Compton, to name a handful.
        Simply googling ‘inner city’ images illustrates the international point that we are both making.
        Perhaps the article writer is from Australia.

  • GBR48

    I recommend this as a slightly different tourist experience, a couple of feet from very fast-moving heavy goods vehicles with a disturbing view down over a low ledge to the waters of Tokyo Bay. It was one of the first things I did on my first visit, on a perishingly cold February day. By the time I’d got to the other side, I couldn’t feel my face, feet, or pretty much any other part of my anatomy. Ifyou’ve overdosed on shrines, go scare yourself and enjoy the photographic opportunities.

  • RWtokyo

    The ONLY part worth walking is the last 200 meters on the Odaiba side, where the walkway drops below road level and . The rest of the Rainbow Bridge is noisy, unpleasant and dangerous — you walk beside the road, 1m away from trucks and buses blasting past, exhaust and vehicle noise & vibration assaulting your eardrums, with only a thin waist-high steel railing preventing you (a child?) from instant death after a wrong step.
    The last section proves that it could be a wonderful bridge walk and a world-class tourist activity, but a narrow walkway right beside thunderous traffic with steel-mash fencing disrupting the view… well, it is less than it could be!

    • Sasori

      And, there is the article that should’ve been written. But, to be honest, you’re pretty much describing most of anywhere in Tokyo. It’s as if Wile E Coyote has run around painting sidewalks everywhere trying to kill that ‘poor little road-runner’.