Mile Zero refers to the point of a city where all distances originate from. I only found this out recently. There is actually a specific point when you see mile markers or distances laid out on a map, saying “x miles between these places”, that it refers to. I always imagined it indicated the distance until you cross into a city’s borders.
In Tokyo, Mile Zero is Nihonbashi (Side note: Google Maps is a bit different for picking its origin spot. In Tokyo, it directs you to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building). Nihonbashi is a business district in what was part of the original downtown Edo-Tokyo. Its history runs deep and is actually quite interesting, but for today, let’s just leave it as “it was really important”.
In the 1970’s, a parade began along this thoroughfare as a celebration regarding the completion of several different highway projects and a sponsorship between a tourism/consumerism agency. Since then, it’s been held every October and has blossomed into something elaborate. Whether you might say the festival is just clever marketing or tradition that has come to mean more, it definitely looks like fun!
Groups from all over Japan come to show off their local festival dances and performances, and specialty regional goods are sold at different stalls. We will have an opportunity to eat festival food even though it’s not summer (which seems to be the big festival season in Japan. Jay and I are looking forward to attending!