160 years ILLIES - Nijūbashi, the iron bridge to the Imperial Palace

A short story on the occasion of the Core Enthronement Ceremony of Emperor Naruhito

The formal inauguration of the Japanese emperor Naruhito on October 22, 2019 marks the end of the transitional period between the Heisei and Reiwa era. The road to Tokyo's imperial palace leads over two bridges: The two-arched stone bridge Seimon-Ishibashi and the iron bridge Nijūbashi. It was in 1886 that K.K. IRISU (ILLIES Japan) was commissioned to design, supply, install and construct the last-named. To this day, the Nijūbashi Bridge is proof of the company's high reputation in Japan.

The book "Emperor’s Dining Table" (Tenno no shokutaku) written by Saburo Irie and published in 1952, describes the history of the bridge.

On the occasion of the Core Enthronement Ceremony of the Emperor, we have summarized five curious facts from this accompanied by pictorial material from the archives of the imperial palace:

5 Facts about the Nijūbashi Bridge - the Iron Bridge to the Imperial Palace, Tokyo

  1. The bridge was built in 1886 through K.K. IRISU (ILLIES Japan), the bridge frame was built in March 1888 and the entire project was completed on October 14, 1888.
  2. ILLIES imported 83 tonnes of forged steel and 35 tonnes of cast iron from Germany for the construction of the bridge.
  3. The ILLIES construction specification states: "Load capacity per foot up to 80 pounds, i.e. four-wheeled vehicles loaded with 12 tonnes; however, the maximum load capacity is 5 times this value" (60 t).
  4. The warranty period for the bridge given by ILLIES was 150 years which therefore still continues until 2038!
  5. Nijūbashi means "double bridge". The name does not - as generally assumed - derive from the fact that the front stone two-arch bridge and the higher iron bridge situated behind seem to be superimposed, but is based on the construction of the first bridge built around 1600 at this spot: For the construction, a bridge girder was initially required, over which the actual bridge was then constructed. This assembly actually looked as if two bridges had been built on top of each other.

Reiwa - The new era under the emperor Naruhito

When emperor Akihito stepped down to make way for his son, Naruhito, Japan has entered a new era "Reiwa". The meaning behind the name of Reiwa is that culture is born and nourished as people's hearts are drawn beautifully together.

“We all wish for peace in the new era and express our heartfelt wishes for the reign of Emperor Naruhito to sustain the peace and prosperity of Japan and its people."


Plans Nijubashi (exhibition 150 years) from the archive of the Imperial Palace - History of the construction work of the Imperial Palace Volume 58. Construction of the Iron Bridge (Reproduction) Imperial Household Agency