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Looking across the Sumidagawa towards Rainbow Bridge. All of the land visible in this photo is reclaimed land, and until the 1850s, the view from this site was of the vast estuary and open water of Edo Bay. After the US fleet of black ships commanded by Commodore Perry forced the Tokugawa Shogunate to open several treaty ports, an action soon expanded to include other powerful western nations, more ports, and unequal treaties, the shogunate decided to fortify the bay. From this location a series of square island forts were constructed across the mouth of the river, each called a daiba, and numbered in sequence. A handful of these daiba survive, and the name survives in the form of the Odaiba development, built on landfill dumped into the sea between the 18th century fortresses. The Rainbow Bridge makes use of some of these historic daiba as supports.

The small stone staircase edging down to the water on the left is the Shogun O-Agariba. This is the landing where the shogun would board or disembark river boats when visiting the garden, or in the dying years of Shogunate rule, from the steamships unable to head further upstream. Part of the stairs collapsed into the bay due to wave action during a severe typoon in 1949, and the gate was lost, but otherwise it remains intact. Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th and last Tokugawa shogun, stepped ashore here in early 1868 from the Dutch built frigate Kaiyo-maru.

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Tokyo Photogallery Index, Hamarikyu Gardens Photogallery, Tokyo

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