Kyobashi was once the most glittering area of Tokyo — its glory days have past.
Kabuki at the Edge of Edo CastleJapan's first Kabuki theater was constructed in Kyobashi in 1624. The area quickly filled with competing theaters.
By the 18th century, Kyobashi was a curious mix of theaters and temples on the edge of Edo Castle. This was tolerated by the Shogun for some time. However, eventually the Shogun wasn't happy with a theatre district at his door. Edo-era Japan was characterized by a strict social hierarchy. Actors were at the bottom of society.
In the middle of the 18th century, the Shogun ordered the theaters of Kyobashi moved to the outskirts of Edo. With the theaters gone, Kyobashi and nearby Nihonbashi blossomed into massive shopping districts.
Bridge to the CapitalKyobashi (京橋) means "bridge to the capital". In the Edo-era, Kyobashi was one of the main entrances to Edo Castle.
The ukiyo-e print above is part of the famous Hiroshige series One Hundred Views of Edo. Hiroshige knew the area well — his house was nearby on the banks of the Kyobashi river. He completed the painting in 1856 — in less than 100 years both the bridge and the river itself would be gone.
The Lost River of TokyoKyobashi was completely destroyed in the firebombing of Tokyo in WWII. Desperate burn victims jumped into the Kyobashi river to cool their wounds. The river became awash in bodies.
In the clean up effort that followed, the Kyobashi river was completely filled with ashes from the massive fires.
Today the Tokyo Expressway sits where the river once ran.
The water that once flowed into the river now flows into Tokyo's sewer system.
Over the years, several developers have proposed to bring the river back. Kyobashi represents some of the World's most expensive land. The vision is to make it a riverside urban community once more.
Visiting KyobashiKyobashi is a busy upscale business district that's an interesting place for a walk or photo tour.
Kyobashi sits between two of Tokyo's biggest attractions: the Ginza shopping district and the Tsukiji commercial district (known for Tsukiji Fish Market).