The Colorful and Vibrant Rainbow Bridge of Tokyo

It is only natural for a person to connect with other people. This yearning to be able to link one’s self to another is a human desire that most, if not all, people have. This is why throughout history, human beings have built bridges all over the world to link one place to another in order for people to find it easier to meet and travel. People use bridges for all kinds of reasons such as transporting goods, meeting other people who live in another place and maybe going on road trips. Basically, the sole purpose of a bridge to serve as a physical connection between two places and this affects so many aspects such as the economy and tourism of the place.

Through the years, many kinds of bridges have been designed to not just link two places together, but to also adapt to the place where it will stand. Many factors have to be considered when designing a bridge such as the type of soil where it will stand on. Among the top factors that most people consider when designing a bridge is the way it looks. Because bridges these days are already part of the main tourist attractions in some places, having a bridge that has beautiful features is definitely a plus for that location. One of the many bridges that provide such beautiful feature is the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo, Japan.

Rainbow Bridge Tokyo in Japan: Overview, Facts, and Location

Located in Minato, Tokyo, the Rainbow Bridge is a suspension type of bridge. It crosses the northern Tokyo Bay and connects the Shibaura Pier and the Odaiba waterfront development. Basically, the Rainbow Bridge is the connection of Odaiba to the rest of Tokyo. Also known as Reinbo burijji in Japanese, the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo serves as a support for a regular road, an expressway, the Yurikamome train line, and two pedestrian walkways along both sides of the bridge. Going on the Yurikamome, an entirely computer-controlled train, offers a beautiful scenery while crossing the Rainbow Bridge, especially since it is on elevated tracks. The bridge is among the many tourist destinations in Tokyo and visitors usually go to see the Rainbow Bridge at night.

With the coordinates of 35° 38’ 11” North and 139° 45’ 49” East on the map, the Rainbow Bridge was constructed by the Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The construction of the bridge began in the year 1987 and was completed 6 years later in the year 1993. It is 798 meters or 2,618 feet long and 49 meters wide. The bridge has three spans with its main span, which is also its longest span, having a length of 580 meters or 1,903 feet. Being a two-storey bridge, its towers are 126 meters high while its roadway is 52 meters high. Vertical steel cables are utilized by the Rainbow Bridge, which is a truss-decked suspension bridge, to support the dual decks. The Rainbow Bridge was officially opened to the public on the 27th of August in the year 1993 and was officially called the “Shuto Expressway No. 11 Daiba Route - Port of Tokyo Connector Bridge. However, the masses decided to call it the “Rainbow Bridge” due to its features.

Colored in white, the towers of the bridge were designed in harmony to the skyline of central Tokyo as viewed from the Odaiba standpoint. Because it is a suspension bridge, the wires serve as a support for the bridge. These wires come with lamps on them that light up into three different colors, usually green, white, and red, with the use of solar energy. When lighted up at night utilizing the solar energy obtained during the day, the Rainbow Bridge provides a beautiful nightly illumination.

Three transportation lines are being carried by the bridge on two decks. The Daiba Route of the Shuto Expressway is carried by the upper deck while the lower deck supports two walkways on either side of the bridge with the Tokyo Waterfront New Transit Waterfront Line or the Yurikamome rapid transit system in the center and the Tokyo Prefectural Route 482, which is an open road, running along in-between. Motorcycle pillion passengers, as well as light motorcycles that run under 50cc, are not allowed on both the deck and the walkway of the bridge.

Also officially called the Tokyo Wan Renraku-kyo, which translates to the Tokyo Bay Connector Bridge in English, the Rainbow Bridge offers the magnificent scenery of the waterfront area of Tokyo. The main address of the Rainbow Bridge is Kaigan 3-chome to Daiba 1-chome, Minato Ward, Tokyo, Tokyo.

Walk Across the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo

Most people like to walk across the Rainbow Bridge instead of driving through it. This is because it provides a peaceful and relaxing feel to the people, walking along the side of the bridge while enjoying the beautiful view. There are two separate walkways that one can walk on, namely, on the north side and on the south side of the lower deck of the bridge. People who walk on the north side of the bridge can view the inner Tokyo harbor, the Tokyo Tower, and the Tokyo Skytree while people who walk on the south side of the bridge can view the Tokyo Bay and, at times, even Mount Fuji.

While the walkways are open to the public for free, there are only certain hours when it is open. During the summer season, which runs from the month of April to the month of October, two of the walkways are open from 9 in the morning to 9 in the evening. However, during the winter season, which runs from the month of November to the month of May, the walkways are only open from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening. It is also important to note that the access to these walkways actually closes 30 minutes earlier. Hence, people can only access the bridge up to 8:30 in the evening during the summer season and only up to 5:30 in the afternoon during the winter season before the gates are closed.

With the distance from the Shibaura gate to the Odaiba gate spanning 1.7 kilometers, walking from one gate to another can take up to about 20 to 30 minutes. Fret not for those who wish to walk the whole way but get tired easily as there are benches near the towers wherein people can sit and rest. Some people also sit on them to watch the ship sail in Tokyo Bay. Leisurely walks along the walkways are typical for people walking in the morning as they immensely enjoy the beautiful view. There are also observation platforms on the bridge. Due to the curve of the bridge, the perspective of the visitors changes as they walk along the walkway.

Another important thing to take note of is how windy it is up on the walkways. For those people wearing hats, it is essential to hold on to them or else they might fly away. Other light garments such as a scarf are something to hang on to lest they go with the wind. The weather can be scorching hot during the summer season and freezing cold during the winter season so dressing appropriately when taking a stroll along the walkways is a must. As the walkways are also near road traffic, wearing an anti-pollution mask is recommended.

Riding the bicycles along two of the walkways is also not allowed. They can only be brought to the walkway on the condition that it would be pushed by the owner instead of ridden. To ensure that there are no violators, a wooden board with small wheels at the bottom would be attached to both bicycle tires upon entry and would just be removed at the exit.

The walkways are also closed to the public every 3rd Monday of the month. Should the 3rd Monday of the month fall on a national holiday, the closed walkways would only apply the following day. This is to accommodate more people who officially have free time to go to the bridge and enjoy the scenery.

Light Up Time: The Best View of the Bridge At Night

The lights on the wires of the bridge are turned on starting from the sunset until midnight. The lamps used for lighting the bridge are energy saving and electrode-less lamps. It is usually lighted up in cool white during the summer season to give off the refreshing look and warm white during the winter season to give off that warm feeling. The lights also change depending on the hour and the day, which just fascinates many onlookers.

A signage on the bridge also states that the lights change depending on the season and on special occasions. If one would like to catch the rainbow colors of the bridge, then visit the Rainbow Bridge during the holiday season. The lights change color every so often and it gives a beautiful glow especially during the night. They call this the “Millenium Illumination.” Many visitors flock to the bridge in order to witness the beautiful scene that the bridge provides, accompanied by the cold season. The lights on the bridge also turn pink in the month of October to support cancer research. They hold this every year.

Most people like going to the Rainbow Bridge at sunset. The lights coming on just as the sun is about to set provide just the most magnificent and romantic view. Several photographers also go to the Rainbow Bridge to take photos of the beautiful scenery. The bridge is also a good spot to snap a photo of the Tokyo Tower and the Tokyo Skytree, which look like they stand the same height. However, there are necessary barriers on the bridge that might make it challenging to take some photos. On the other hand, there are also observation platforms wherein camera lens can be poked through. A great spot to take a photo of the Rainbow Bridge is at Daiba Park.

Ways to Go to the Bridge: Train and Car

There are many ways to go to the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo. Visitors can get off at the Tamachi Station on the JR East line or the Shibaura-futo Station on the Yurikamome line and walk from there. If one wants to access the walkways of the bridge, there are two stations where one can get off at depending on which gate one would be entering. To access the Tokyo side, get off at the Shibaura-futo Station. On the other hand, to access the Odaiba side, get off at the Odaiba-kaihinkoen Station.

For those who are not really into walking long paths as crossing the bridge can take quite a while on foot, they can also opt to drive their own car. Driving across the bridge can also provide a sense of relaxation while enjoying the waterfront area of Tokyo. The scenery would surely be a treat for the drivers. A plus is that no toll fee is required to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Going to the Rainbow Bridge and seeing that magnificent view would surely be something else. The delight on the faces of the people when witnessing and enjoying the colorful lights and the beautiful scenery is something to behold. Indeed, a bridge is not just a structure to connect two places. The Rainbow Bridge offers more than just a connection between one city to another; it serves as a place of relaxation and leisurely walks for individuals who want to be refreshed by the beautiful scenery that can only be witnessed on the Rainbow Bridge. Walking along the walkways and enjoying the view can take one’s stress away, especially with one’s eyes feasting on the view of the waterfront area of Tokyo.