I don’t have any specific intention to visit both district. It’s just one of those places that you have to remember because a) you need to transfer train on that station or b) you happen to like the sound of the word “bashi”. But there is something unique about both town that caught my attention and a side trip is worth considering as part of my weekend plan.
Nihonbashi (literal meaning as “Japan Bridge”) is known for two things – Nihonbashi Bridge (obviously) and Bank of Japan. The used-to-be wooden bridge is consider as the mile zero marker of Japan National Highway since the golden days but there are only a handful of tourist that I saw who intentionally visit the bridge. Few blocks away is the center of Japan’s economic world – Bank of Japan. It’s neo-baroque designed attracts photography enthusiast and for those who likes notable coins can visit the nearby bank-sponsored Currency Museum for free. The rest of the Nihonbashi area are just high end shopping malls (Mitsukoshi, Coredo Muromachi, Mitsui) but the neighborhood buildings architecture is aesthetically pleasing for a weekend walk.
There’s nothing “touristy” with the district of Shinbashi (literal meaning “New Bridge”). It’s just your typical town in Tokyo where there are shops, cafes and office buildings. But what makes it special particularly during the weekend is the Book Bazaar at SL Square. Rows and rows of Japanese used books are for sale at a bargain price (5 books for 1000 Yen for the latest manga and 100 Yen for the old one) and there are loads of collector items that can rival those up for grabs at ebay. No need to worry if you cannot read Japanese, you can still browse the collector’s item or buy some painting souvenirs by local artist. I love the collectible magazines (complete volume of New York Times Book Review during the year 1950’s) and pamphlet memorabilia of old Hollywood movies. They are the most expensive buy at the square (1,000 Yen and above depending on how classic) but it doesn’t shy away the most eager gatherers. I spent an hour debating in my head if I should purchase or not.
Under the bridge of Nihonbashi a monk was singing, I am not sure if that’s his way of asking donation. But his orange rob compliments the serenity of spending a hot summer afternoon sheltered by the bridge.