support this research
70330-0021 -Steam Train in Kobe, 1900s

Kobe 1900s
View from Aioibashi

Artist Unknown
Publisher Ueda
Medium Postcard
Period Meiji
Location Kobe
Image No. 70330-0021
Purchase Digital File

A steam locomotive pushes wagons on the Tokaido railway line. The photographer was standing on Aioibashi bridge, a railway overpass, looking east with his back towards Kobe Station.

The railroad connection between Kobe and Osaka was opened in May 1874 (Meiji 7). It took 70 minutes to travel the 32.7 kilometer route. Today it is a little over 20 minutes.

In 1876 (Meiji 9), the line was extended to Kyoto and by 1889 (Meiji 22) passengers could travel between Kobe and Shinbashi Station in Tokyo.

Aioibashi connected Motomachidori, a major shopping street, with Tamondori and Minatogawa Jinja, one of the most important shinto shrines in Kobe.1

80724-0078 - JR Kobe Line in Kobe, Hyogo
Approximately the same location in 2008 (Heisei 20).

The railroad connection between Kobe and Osaka offered engineers a lot of challenges, which created a whole string of firsts for Japan. The first railroad tunnels below rivers were made; under Sumiyoshigawa and Ashiyagawa. The word tunnel was actually first used in Japan for the Ashiyagawa tunnel, which was such an engineering feat that even The Illustrated London News mentioned it. Several iron railroad bridges were also laid, to cross the rivers Mukogawa, Kanzakigawa and Jusogawa.

130125-0025 - Aioibashi Bridge, Kobe, 1910s
A streetcar on Aioibashi Bridge (相生橋), the railway overpass in Aioicho from which the photographer took the top photograph.

Not only the train tracks and steam locomotive are of interest on this photo. It also gives a good impression of a typical street in Kobe. The corner house on the left stood on Tamondori 1-chome and for a long time featured a shop selling cotton. Many more shops can be seen along the railroad line.

In the curve of the railroad was the location of Zenpukuji (善福寺), a temple of the Jodo Sect Honganji Branch of Buddhism. Its roof can be seen through the steam of the locomotive, right above the cabby. Almost right between Aioibashi and the temple, the tracks crossed the Ujigawa River. These days, this river flows underground in this area. It actually disappears underground close to Kobe Central Library, where I do much of the research for the photographs on this site.

The many people walking on wooden geta, a substantial number of them pushing carts, and the sounds of the passing trains must have made this corner of Kobe quite a noisy one. Comparable to the noise of the nearby harbor.

1902 Map of Kobe
1902 (Meiji 35) Map of Kobe: 1. Minatogawa Jinja shrine; 2. Tamondori (多聞通); 3. Aioibashi bridge (相生橋); 4. Motomachidori; 5. Zenpukuji temple (善福寺); 6. Kaigandori (Bund); 7. Tokaido Railroad.

see current map


1 Metadata database of Japanese old photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Period, 1039 Train Tracks near Kobe Station (1): Looking East from Aioi Bridge (Kobe). Retrieved on 2008-07-20.


Leave a Comment

Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). Kobe 1900s: View from Aioibashi, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on October 4, 2022 (GMT) from

I have a small favor to ask

Old Photos of Japan aims to be your personal museum for Japan's visual heritage to increase our understanding of Japanese culture and society.

Finding, acquiring, scanning, restoring, researching and conserving these vintage images, and making the imagery and research freely available online, takes serious time, money and effort.

I do this without charging for access, selling user data, or running ads.

Your support helps to make this possible, and ensures that this important visual heritage of Japan will not be lost and forgotten.

If you can, please consider supporting Old Photos of Japan with a regular amount each month. Or become a volunteer.

Thank you,
Kjeld Duits

support this research

Explore More


Osaka 1900s
Osaka Station

This glass slide shows the second Osaka Station in all of its glory. Opened in July 1901 (Meiji 34), the Gothic style building was two stories high and built of granite, giving it a massive and imposing look.


Tokyo 1880s
Ginza Streetcar

A wonderfully relaxed Ginza, full of empty space, with magnificent willow trees, a simple sandy road and a horse-drawn street car. It can hardly be any more different from the Ginza that we know today.


Tokyo 1890s
Streetcar in Ueno

This photograph displays Tokyo’s most popular transportation modes during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), horse drawn streetcars and jinrikisha (rickshaws).

Add Comment

There are currently no comments on this article.