“Shinobazu, Now and Then” Ueno Shinobazu Pond Horse Racing Track (Shinobazu Pond Construction)

Shinobazu Pond now takes an elliptical shape (Figure 1); however, this is not its original shape. At the beginning of the Meiji period the Aizome River emptied into the north side of the pond and it was certainly different from now. The present shape is due to the establishment of a horse race track along the edge of the pond from the Meiji period; the extensive change in the shape of the pond is due to the project of reclamation and infill. This article will consider the details of the changes in the edge of the pond from when the racetrack was established.

現在の不忍池
Figure 1: Present day Shinobazu Pond
Source: Google Maps (Retrieved May 17, 2014)

The First Annual Shinobazu Race was held from November 1, 1884 at Shinobazu Pond. Over the course of three days, horseback riders cantered along around Shinobazu Pond, and the event flourished the area. The main organizer was the Union Race Club, founded in 1879; at first the track was established at Toyama, but it was moved to Shinobazu Pond since transportation access to the original site was not favourable.

The Shinobazu Racetrack construction work began from March 1884. Completing such works as pond reclamation, installing the track and constructing the spectator stands, was achieved in about half a year, so it can be seen as a rushed construction project. The horse track, along with other places including Rokumeikan built at the same time, functioned as place for social intercourse demonstrating the modernization of the country. The opening of the racetrack was a national event with great capital investment.

In the course of the construction work, we can see that “for the first time in 48 years, the mud taken from dredging of the pond was used to fill in the large drainage ditch by the roadside [and other holes] in the surrounding Ikenoha-takaya-machi area. Until that time, the shape was not appropriate for a horseracing track and this construction project established the pond’s shape into a suitable ellipse.” (Tachikawa 2008, p.8). Additionally, spectator stands were built on the filled in sand bank of the north part of the pond. It was an impressive cypress-thatched three-gabled two-story building. (Figures 2,3, and 4)

 参謀本部陸軍部測量局5千分の1 東京府武蔵国本郷区本郷元富士町近傍及び東京府武蔵国下谷区上野公園地及車坂町近傍 (明治16年)
Figure 2: Shinobazu Pond before the construction
Source: General Staff Headquarters Department of the Army, Surveying Department, 5000:1 Tokyo Musashi National Establishment Hongo Fujiyamacho Neighborhood and Shitaya Ueno Park and Kurumazaka Neighborhood Meiji 16 (1883)

明治二十五年実測東京全図
Figure 3: Shinobazu Pond after the construction
Source: Meiji 25 (1892) Complete Survey Map of Tokyo

馬見所
Figure 4: Viewing Stands
Source: Shinobazu Horse Race Track; National Diet Library Modern Era Digital Library (Retrieved May 17, 2014).

Later, on November 1, 1884, the First Annual Shinobazu Horse Race was realized. Over the three days of the event, the Emperor, councillors, cabinet ministers, and ambassadors from many foreign countries, as well as a crowd of ordinary spectators attended, which created bustling business at the surrounding private tatami rooms. After that, the spring and autumn track meets became fixed events. In 1890 on the occasion of the Third Annual Domestic Industrial Exposition special race events were held. While Shinobazu Horse Track became one of the famous sites of Ueno, it was plagued by financial difficulties. After the autumn race in 1892, both the Union Race Club and the Shinobazu Horse Race Track were closed.

References:
Tachikawa Kenji, Bunmei kaika ni baken wa mau: Nihon keiba no tanjō [Yokohama]: Seori Shobō, 2008.

作成者  | 2015-08-11 (火)
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