Nihonbashi Bridge, Tokyo
“The most important thoroughfare in Tokyo, which none should fail to see, leads from the Shimbashi terminus to Yorozuyo-bashi and Ueno. The portion of it lying nearest to [Shimbashi] is called the Ginza, and has a number of shops in European style. Proceeding along it, the traveller crosses the Kyobashi and Nihon-bashi bridges, from the latter of which all distances in Eastern Japan are calculated.”
– A Handbook for Travellers in Japan, Basil Hall Chamberlain, 1907
‘Yorozuyo’ is an example of complications associated with the Japanese written language: that the same kanji can have two or more alternative pronunciations (on’yomi or kun’yomi). The kanji for Yorozuyo-bashi [万世橋, ten-thousand generation bridge] is the same as Mansei-bashi. It was the then-governer of Tokyo, Tadahiro Okubo, who wanted to name the span (completed in 1903 of stone and iron) Yorozuyo-bashi. replacing an earlier bridge called Megane-bashi [eye-glasses or spectacles bridge]. ‘Yorozuyo-bashi’, however, seemed too complicated even for the locals, so the alternative reading – Manseibashi – was instead used after the Chuo Main Line terminal was built nearby in 1912.