When it comes to attractions, we might think of museums, statues, zoos, theme parks, museums or galleries. As the largest city in Japan, Tokyo offers a lot of such attractions. However, it also has some less common types of architecture to visit that are actually no less interesting and impressive — bridges. And in this article I'd like to introduce two great bridges of Tokyo — the Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Gate Bridge.
The Rainbow Bridge
I can guess that most tourists that have been to Tokyo should at least have seen the Rainbow Bridge, especially if they went to Odaiba area. However, not many of them know that it is actually possible (and worth it) to walk on it. The Rainbow Bridge offers 2 walkways: the north side, from which you can see the inner Tokyo harbour, Tokyo Tower and Skytree, and the south side from which you can see Tokyo Bay, Odaiba and sometimes even Mount Fuji. The bridge is pretty long with the total length of 798 meters and a main span of 580 meters, and because of its curved shape you can get a great view on the bridge itself from the north side walkway.
Also, walking on a height of 52 meters above the water, while having trains, cars, and motorcyclists all rushing at a high speed behind you makes the atmosphere more special, thrilling and exciting. Another bonus offered by the Rainbow Bridge is the number of observation decks, some of which are not covered with glass or grid, therefore there are no obstacles for you to take great pictures of the scenery. Also, since this place is not very popular among tourists or local people, it's very likely that you won't meet many people there which is definitely an advantage for those who want to have a nice walk in peace and quiet.
Up to now, I've been to this bridge more than 5 times, and it still remains my favorite place in Tokyo. The views keep impressing me every time I go there. From my observations, the best time to come to the Rainbow Bridge is sunset, when the sky turns into warm colors, and as you walk on it you'll see how the sky is getting darker while the city is getting brighter with all the lights of Tokyo turning on gradually. In addition, the Bridge itself offers magical illumination, especially in winter when it turns into rainbow colors (this is why local people gave it the name of the Rainbow Bridge). So after enjoying the sunset, you get a stunning night view on the bridge and various parts of the city.
Winter illumination of the Rainbow Bridge
Night view of Tokyo Tower from the Rainbow Bridge
Based on my personal experience, I would advise not to go to the bridge during bad weather such as strong wind or rain. Once I went there on a really gloomy day, and although I got to see really pretty views filled with leaden and silver colors of clouds and buildings, not a long time after that I faced a thunderstorm along with a strong wind and rain shower. My umbrella got broken by the wind when I was in the middle of the bridge, and I had no choice other than to run back, which took some time and made me get soaked to the skin. But unless you go during a rainy day, I'm sure you'll enjoy your walk.
View of the Rainbow Bridge on a gloomy day
Bear in mind that the walkways are open from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. in summer and from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. in winter, and access to the bridge closes 30 minutes before the closing time. The bridge can be reached from Tamachi Station (JR) by 15 minutes’ walk, from Shibaura-futō Station (Yurikamome line) by 7 minutes’ walk, or from Odaiba.
The Tokyo Gate Bridge
One day, while walking on the Rainbow Bridge and looking around, I spotted something bright and with an interesting shape, and became really curious about it. Later on, I found out that it was the Tokyo Gate Bridge, and so decided to go there and explore it.
The walkway of the Tokyo Gate Bridge, which is also called Dinosaur Bridge, starts from Wakasu Island in Koto area. When I arrived in that island I had quite limited time before the access to the bridge walkways got closed, and I wish I had more time to explore this island more because there was a really nice and peaceful park, a camping area and a large promenade where people can enjoy walking and fishing.
After exploring the place for a while, I went up the bridge and started my walk. Same as my trip to the Rainbow Bridge, I decided to go to the Tokyo Gate Bridge during the sunset time, which was at around 4:30 P.M. in early January. The bridge amazed me from the first sight by its unique shape.
The Tokyo Gate Bridge before dusk
The views I got from it were really pretty too – I could see the Tokyo skyline and mountains of Kanagawa prefecture on one side, and Tokyo Bay and mountains of Chiba prefecture on another side.
Sunset view from the Tokyo Gate Bridge
Unfortunately, the Tokyo Gate Bridge doesn't have special observation points as the Rainbow Bridge does, but you can still enjoy the views and feel a unique atmosphere. Another thing that makes the atmosphere special is that the bridge is located quite close to Haneda Airport, therefore you can see airplanes flying above the bridge almost every 5 minutes.
In order to access The Tokyo Gate Bridge, first come to the Shin-Kiba station using either Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line, JE Keiyo Line (JR East) or Rinkai Line (TWR), and then take the bus from Shinkiba Ekimae Konai Bus Stop bound for Wakasu Camping and get off at the last stop. Finally, it will then take just 3 minutes to reach the bridge by walking.
All in all, the Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Gate Bridge remain one of those quiet and unpopular places in Tokyo that are definitely worth it to visit. They both offer a great opportunity to have a calm walk, enjoy beautiful scenery and take fantastic pictures, and what is also important, it's totally free of charge unlike the majority of the observation decks in Tokyo.