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Travel Shinagawa Battery (Odaiba)

Shinagawa Battery Islands (品川台場)


In the late Edo period (1600-1868), the Tokugawa shogunate deployed artillery batteries along the Japanese coastline to defend the shores against a possible incursion of foreign naval forces. Shinagawa had the pivotal role of protecting Edo, modern-day Tōkyō. Nowadays, this area of the city is called 'O-daiba' (お台場), named after the batteries (daiba).

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


History:


The shogunate started construction in August 1853, just one month after Commodore Perry of the United States had reached the Japanese coast at Uraga at the mouth of Edo Bay. Initially, the bakufu planned to construct eleven batteries off the coast of Shinagawa and Fukagawa. The architect was a daikan (代官, local magistrate) of Izu Nirayama by the name of Egawa Tarozaemon Hidetatsu (江川太郎左衛門英龍). Five batteries (No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6) were completed within just a year and three months, while the construction of No. 4 was stopped due to financial difficulties and the conclusion of a friendship treaty with the United States. Another battery, the Gotenyamashita Battery (御殿山下台場), was constructed further inland. At any rate, the shogunate had enough manpower and civil engineers to build those naval defences in a relatively short time. More information on the construction is listed on the website of the Japan Dredging and Reclamation Engineering Association (in Japanese).

The five batteries are visible in this old aerial photograph taken in 1948.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)

Based on the Aerial Photograph Searching Service of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. The location of the enclosures is estimated.

The aerial photograph below shows almost the same area as the picture above. The shogunate planned to form a linear defence line, including the uncompleted batteries Nos. 7 to 11.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)

Based on the Aerial Photograph Searching Service of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. The location of the enclosures is estimated.

After the Second World War, in the period of Japan's economic recovery, No. 1 and No. 5 batteries were dismantled in land reclamation projects. No. 2 was removed in 1941 because it interfered with shipping lanes and the operations at Shinagawa Port. No. 4 and Gotenyamashita battery had already been demolished in the Meiji Period, only No. 3 and No. 6 batteries survive to this day.

Visiting the batteries:


I visited Shinagawa Battery (Daiba) in June 2013 and revisited it in January 2014 to revise the article.

First, I visited the site of the Gotenyamashita battery, nowadays home to Daiba Elementary School. In front of the school gate, there is a small monument modelled on the lighthouse on the stone wall of the battery.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


The park next to the school has been named 'Daiba' as well.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


I continued to No. 4 battery near Tennōzu Isle Station (天王洲アイル駅). Parts of the stone wall - now used as a seawall - have survived. It is called 'Kuzure daiba' (崩れ台場. "collapsed battery"). The building next to the battery is called 'Sea Fort', a very appropriate name.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


Next, I was walking around Shinagawa Wharf, the site of No. 1 and No. 5 batteries. Below is the location where I believe No. 1 was situated. However, there aren't any remains or memorials.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


I figured that the No. 5 battery had to be located northeast of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau. I found an eatery named 'Shinagawa Daiba Restaurant' near that location.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


Then I walked across Rainbow Bridge. The batteries are only visible from the pedestrian walkway on the south side. Below is a photo of No. 6 battery (第六台場 Dai-Roku Daiba). As it is off-limits to the public, it turned into a seabird roost.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


Below is a photo of No. 3 battery (第三台場 Dai-San Daiba). There were no other visitors, as it was a particularly freezing day.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


A schematic drawing of No. 3 battery.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


No. 3 battery can be accessed from Odaiba-Kaihinkōen Station (お台場海浜公園駅).

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


The square-shaped battery is quite large, about 150m on each side, and much larger than I had expected.
A little above the courtyard are the remains of the camp.

The battery, a square shape with 150 meters on a side, was larger than I expected. Remains of the former camp can still be found inside the court.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


I suppose the construction below served as a loading dock to transfer supplies from the sea.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


Below, the remains of a powder magazine.

Shinagawa Daiba (お城散歩)


Date of visit: 8 June 2013, 11 January 2014


Access:

  • Location: No. 3 battery, Daiba, Minato-ku, Tōkyō.
    No. 4 battery, Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tōkyō: north of of Sea Fort Square (シーフォートスクエア).
    Gotenyamashita battery: Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tōkyō: around Daiba Elementary School.
  • Access: No. 3: a 10-minute walk from Yurikamome Line Odaiba-Kaihinkōen Station (お台場海浜公園駅).
    No. 4 battery: a 3-minute walk from Tōkyō Monorail Tennōzu Isle Station (天王洲アイル駅).
    Gotenyamashita battery: a 6-minute walk from Keikyu Mainline Kita-Shinagawa Station (北品川駅).
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About author
Hiroto Uehara
Hiroto is an ordinary Japanese office worker, but his true mission is searching for castles on the weekend.

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