There were four pontists who died between December 6th 2020 and August 2021. Three of whom have been honored for their work during the last year in the Chronicles: James Baughn, James Cooper and J.R. Manning. I’m now introducing you to the fourth pontist in the series, one that was unknown until I got into some history discussions with him, unfortunately for a very limited time.
I met Toshirou Okamoto in one of the Bridge social media pages on facebook back in 2020 as he posted a lot of photos of bridges in Japan, many of which had survived the ordeal of World War II. When we think of World War II in the sense of architecture, we think of Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg and the Rhine region, with buildings and bridges dating back to the 1700 and 1800s being reduced to rubble by the bombings. We think of Hitler’s Scorch Bridge policies which doomed hundreds of bridges, including the Ludendorf, the Wesel, and Dömitz.
And for Japan, we think of the atomic bomb which ended World War II with Hiroshima and Nagasaki being decimated with a single drop. We don’t talk much about the atrocities of the Japanese and Americans on both sides, not to mention the devastation in Japan and the Pacific because of the air wars. Japan has a wide array of historic bridges that we know little about, many of them over a century old and featuring arch and truss bridge spans. Having subscribed to the pages of many Japanese pontists on Instagram, I’m really amazed at how these bridges survived the war and how Japanese engineers make the maximal use out of maintaining and using these bridges.
This led me to inquiring about some of the bridges Okamoto contributed in hopes of adding some examples in the Chronicles. He started off with some in Tokyo that survived the war in tact, providing some history on the structure and some other facts. Before he was able to complete the quest of Tokyo and some bridges in Japan that played a role in the war though, he died unexpectedly in July 2021. His family ruled his untimely passing as something in connection with stroke, as they posted on his facebook page.
This led me to doing a tribute in his honor. The plan is to profile each bridge that played a role in the war, using the pics and information he sent me before he died. With some minor changes (like headings and other items, everything presented here is original in his writing. This will be ongoing through the end of January to allow you to look at and appreciate the architecture and history that Japan is famous for, something we should have a look at even as leisure.
And for that, we will start off with our first bridge:
Kuramaebashi is a bridge over Sumida-gawa River that runs through Tokyo Metropolitan Road No. 315
Okachimachi-Koiwa Line (Kuramaebashi-dori Street). The entire bridge is painted yellow, reminiscent of
rice husks. There is the Kuramae Kokugikan from September 1954 to December 1984, and the handrails
are decorated with reliefs of wrestlers and so on.
The present bridge was built according to the reconstruction plan of the Great Kanto Earthquake. Before
that, there used to be a ferry boat called “Fujimi no Watashi”.
Description of the Bridge:
•Classification – Steel-Concrete Road Bridge
•Type -3 span continuous overhead solid rib 2 hinge arch and overhead concrete fixed arch
•Length of bridge: -173.2 m
•Branch: -50.902 m (maximum span of steel arch)/12.192 m (concrete arch support)
•Width -22.0 m
•Live load – First class bridge (TL -12/1919 Street Structure Ordinance)
•Construction started: September 1924 (1924)
•Completed: November 1927 (1927)
•Main contractor: Tokyo City Reconstruction Bureau
•Design: Iura Izo
•Construction – Ishikawajima Shipyard
Note: Information courtesy of Wikipedia translated into English from Japanese (Many thanks!) The pictures were taken from a pleasure boat on the Sumida River. Sumida River Sightseeing Boat is a recommended sightseeing spot for bridge lovers.
There will be more bridges to come as we pay tribute, however one of the cities, Nagasaki, has a tour guide of bridges that also indeed survived the war, not to mention the atomic bomb in 1945. That bridge is in the running for the 2021 Bridgehunter Awards in the category Bridge Tour Guide International. A tour guide on that can be found here:
Bridge of Nagasaki: The Bridges of Nagasaki — @chadkoh
To vote on that or the other bridges, click on the links below:
Part 3: 2021 Bridgehunter Awards Part 3
You have five days left to vote. Check out the candidates and the bridges of Japan in my Instagram page by clicking here:
Happy Bridgehunting folks! 🙂