The literal meaning of Namidabashi is “the bridge (Bashi) of tears (Namida).” It was a small bridge located at the Omoi River near the Kozukappara execution grounds.
The bridge was the place where a condemned person bid the last farewell of his or her life;
It was the place of his or her repentance and the last place the families, relatives, and friends saw the person.
The Namidabashi Bridge was named so because both—the dying and the living—shed tears on the bridge.
“Namida” of Namidabashi referred to the tears shed because of the regrets and unbearable pain in our lives.
However, after the Omoi River’s reclamation, the Namidabashi Bridge was removed, and a concrete road was laid in its place.
Today, only the name “Namidabashi” exists as the name of the intersection.
Even so, people cross the Namidabashi intersection as if they are crossing a bridge, including people living in cheap guesthouses, office workers living in apartments, artisans working in Asakusa traditional industries, Japanese travellers, foreign travellers staying at guesthouses, and people who like bars, cafes, restaurants.
It was the town the condemned persons passed by in the Edo era and famous for its population of day labourers. But today, it is becoming the place where people come to earn their livelihood.
Is it possible to reframe the meaning of “tears” considering the changes that have happened around Namidabashi?
We still face regrets and unbearable pain in our lives: not just in Namidabashi, San’ya, or Japan, but regardless of our ethnicity, nationality, and occupation.
We would like to seek an ideal society that values more relief and peace of mind in life.
Can we drop tears of relief?