Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Tuesday Then & Now - Otonashi Bridge

More photos from the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs... I missed the cherry blossoms by a few weeks, but the little park along the Shakuji River below Otonashibashi Bridge, behind Oji station, is a peaceful little oasis.

These photos (and their captions) tell a story of industrialization of the area.

"Oji Station is built over Shakujii River. In this area the river is called Otonashi River. The reason for this name is as follows. Toyoshima Gonnokami Kiyomitsu, a medieval feudal lord, hailed from Kishu (present-day Wakayama Prefecture) and thus established a shrine to Jakuichi Ouji Gongen (Kumano Gongen) that later became Oji Gongen. Consequently, this area was called Oji, and the river was named after the Otonashi River of Kishu. Upstream on the Otonashi River, Takinogawa Village gained fame for its autumn colours. Taken in the mid-Meiji Period."

"A woman looking at Otonashi River (Shakujii River) from a restaurant in Oji. The river was so clear during the Edo Period that tea made from river water was praised for its high quality. The hillside along the Otonashi River was also suited for tea growing, and the tea grown here was valued on a par with the famous tea from Uji. People were probably able to enjoy this tea here. Taken from a magic lantern made around 1897, this photograph shows that the river was still clean in the Meiji Period."

"The photographs of Takinogawa taken during the Meiji Period capture the beauty of the autumn colours. However, after World War II, the development of the residential areas changed the area upstream. The river banks were covered with concrete and the river started to smell due to waste water from houses. The local people launched a movement to protect the river, and finally the government built the Otonashi River Shinsui (Water Friendly) Park in 1985. Spring water is mixed with the natural flow and filtered. Thus, clean water is circulated in certain areas. Depicting the area under present-day Otonashi Bridge, this photograph was taken by Kusakabe Kinbei between 1877 and 1887 (second decade of the Meiji Period)."

And April 2013 -


  1. I know we can't stop progress. I know, but ...

    I often wish we could. :(

    PS: Then again, without progress there would be no Amazon, no shinkansen, no English-teaching opportunities (for women) in Japan. Drat. I'm getting confused!

    1. Progress isn't always a bad thing (female English teachers in Japan!), and I am glad of examples like this park where mistakes were made but there has now been an attempt at righting at least some of those mistakes.

      But yes, I do wish I could go back and see this area unspoiled - and stop it from being spoiled!!