TOP ＞ History of Sumida
How did the Sumida River come to be named? There is no single agreed-upon answer.
Although there are different ways of writing Sumida using Japanese characters, writers generally preferred to imbue names with a Chinese feel.
During the Nara Period, a constitutionally formed province system was established based on the Chinese legal system, and the Sumida River formed the border between Shimousa and Musashi Provinces.
According to an official family registry kept at Shosoin, the oldest wooden structure in Japan, located at Todaiji Temple in Nara, the Mukojima Region was a part of Oshimago, Katsushika County in 721.
In the early Heian Period, a main road passed through Oshimago, and a ferry dock was built on the Sumida River.
It is known that an ancient event described in a waka poem by Narihira Ariwara, which included a black-headed gull, took place around this ferry dock.
The ferry served to connect the city and local regions, and Mukojima flourished.
At the end of Heian Period, a settlement called Sumida Juku was established around Sumida River and flourished as a trading center.
There is a record showing that Yoritomo Minamoto stationed many troops at Sumida Juku.
Sumida Juku became a central gathering place for people from the city and merchants from the regions, and many legends were born.
The tragedy of Umewakamaru, a famous part of the Noh drama, Sumida River, written in the Muromachi Period is also related to Sumida Juku.
Led by Ieyasu Tokugawa, the Edo Government promoted the reclamation of Honjo, and full-scale reclamation was begun after a massive fire broke out in 1657.
Ekoin was built to allow memorial services to be held for the victims, and Ryogoku Bridge was also installed.
Honjo was home to old samurai residences, temples, and machiya, wooden houses with narrow but deep frontages that were used as shops. Included among these was the residence of Kozukenosuke Kira, real-life samurai made famous in the Kabuki drama, The Treasury of Loyal Retainers (Chushingura).
Mukojima was a farming village and the Daimyo's country residence.
Vegetables and fruits were grown there with fertilizers brought in from Edo.
Following the end of the Edo Government in 1868, Sumida was included within the Tokyo city limits. In 1878, it was placed into Honjo Ward and Minami-Katsushika County.
With the beginning of the Meiji Period, the sites of samurai residences were easy to acquire at lower prices. This, along with the fact that water transportation was convenient, attracted many factories and the area become a center of industry.
The Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 significantly damaged Sumida, with damage to Honjo Ward being especially serious.
The Capital City Restoration Plan included a large-scale realignment of ward boundaries that resulted in making Sumida one of the most densely-populated areas in Tokyo as it attracted more factories and became home to the workers employed by them.
In 1932, Mukojima Ward was established through the incorporation of Sumida, Terajima, Oki, and Azuma Villages.
On March 10th, 1945, a devastating American air raid left Tokyo in ashes and reduced its population to just 25% of what it had been before the war. When the city was rebuilt, planners decided to incorporate Honjo and Mukojima Wards to make Sumida Ward on March 15, 1947.
This ancient area full of culture and vitality is now home to Tokyo's newest landmark, TOKYO SKYTREE®.