Suidōbashi (Water Supply Bridge/Aqueduct Bridge)
If you ever come to Japan, you might want to see a baseball game. If you want to see a baseball game, you’ll probably want to see Japan’s best team. If you want to see Japan’s best team, you’ll have to come to Suidōbashi Station because that’s the train station next to Tōkyō Dome, the home of the Tōkyō Giants.
When you come out of Suidōbashi Station, you’ll walk across a bridge going over the Kanda River. That’s the Suidōbashi.
The name is made of 3 characters; 水 sui water 道 dō way/path and 橋 hashi bridge.
There were 6 main water supplies for the city of Edo, ie; the 江戸の六上水 Edo no Roku Jōsui (6 Main Water Supplies of Edo).* These waterways were (depending on location) over ground aqueducts, underground pipes and tiny open rivers at various points and they brought running water to Edo Castle, to the daimyō mansions and to the parks of Edo. While the main rivers were used for transporting goods (and possibly taking a dump while you road a boat to some place), the jōsui were meant for bath and drinking water (and theoretically dump-free).
Near Suidōbashi, one diverted waterway actually crossed back over the Kanda Jōsui and passed over the river via aqueduct as it headed to 小石川後楽園 Koishikawa-Kōrakuen Kōrakuen, a garden held by 水戸藩 Mito-han Mito Domain – which you can still visit today. In paintings (and later in photos) you can see the aqueduct and a bridge.
In the Edo Period there were, of course, bridges crossing the Kanda River many places. I’m going to be honest and say I’m not clear on this next point. But I think in the early Meiji Period both the Tokugawa aqueduct and a new bridge existed. Then the aqueduct was torn down to be replaced by modern sewage technology. It’s my understanding that the name Suidōbashi (water carrying bridge) was transferred from the aqueduct to the bridge.
Well, it’s obvious I don’t know much about waterworks in the Edo Period.
But this looks super fucking cool.
Apparently, there is a museum called 東京都水道歴史館 Tōkyō-to Suidō Rekishikan The Tōkyō Waterworks Historical Museum in Ochanomizu which documents the history of water in Edo and Tōkyō. I may have to go check this place out. One of their prize possessions is a portion of a wooden water pipe that brought water into (or out of) a daimyō masion. This archaeological evidence confirms some form of underwater running water in the residences of the Edo Period elite. Obviously, I need to go there and study up on water technology in Edo.
This is just pointless trivia, but here are the names of the 6 water supplies. Memorize them and impress (read: bore to tears) your Japanese friends:
At some point, we’re going to talk about the 5 Major Highways from Edo, the 五街道 Go-kaidō. There will be a test next week.
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*上水 jōsui – while the translation is “water supply,” the nuance is “bringing water.” Compare with 上京 Jōkyō “coming to the capital” ie; Tokyo/Edo.