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Goin’ Japanesque!

3 Most Unique Bridges Recommended As Sightseeing Destinations

This time for a sightseeing destination that is quite distinct. It relates to old bridges in Japan. In Tokyo, Nihonbashi is an example of an extremely famous bridge but this article features regional areas and distinctive bridges in such regions that are structurally unique.

 

1. Saru Hashi (Monkey Bridge)

猿橋, Yamanashi Prefecture
Length 30.9 meters, Width 3.3 meters, Height from the water surface 31 meters

saru-hashi-bridge1
https://www.flickr.com

It is a bridge built over the Katsura-gawa River, of Otsuki in Yamanashi Prefecture. It is one of the views that is nationally certified for its scenic beauty. It is the only wooden drawbridge (hanebashi) that exists.

saru-hashi-bridge2
https://www.flickr.com

saru-hashi-bridge3
Wooden panels that resemble tiled roofs

The hanebashi refers to a bridge that does not have a bridge pier at all. It is said that the pier could not be built here due to the depth of the valley and thus it was determined that the bridge should be this particular structure. In this kind of environment, it is customary to build a suspension bridge. However, around the year 600, the sight of monkeys lining up in a row to reach the other side of the river was what inspired the structure of the hanebashi-drawbridge (Historical accuracy has not been confirmed). Can you see that the wooden panels that are laid on top of each other gradually juts out to support the bridge? Information: Map

 

2. Kintai Kyo Bridge

錦帯橋, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Length 193.3 meters, Width 5 meters, Height of abutment 6.6 meters

kintai-kyo-bridge2
https://www.flickr.com

This is a 5 arch bridge that was built over the Nishiki-gawa River in Iwakuni of Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1673. The Kintai Kyo is designated as one of the 3 Best Bridges of Japan. The amazing view of the bridge with the Iwakuni Castle in the background is one of the top class tourist destinations of the Yamaguchi Prefecture. Because there is such a long distance of about 200 meters between the river banks, the initial engineers pondered how they could build a bridge across it. The answer they came up with was to build abutments similar to small islands and to connect them with rows of arches.

kintai-kyo-bridge3
Its structure that can be seen underneath the bridge, https://www.flickr.com

The structure of the Kintai Kyo makes it so that the strength of the bridge is increased by pressure (or weight) applied from above. It is said that there are no flaws even from modern engineering perspectives, attesting to the high skills of the engineers of the time. It apparently is a very unique structure even in the world.

kintai-kyo-bridge4
https://www.flickr.com

What is also unique about this bridge is the different views that can be seen depending on the season. This is also a designated spot for amazing views of cherry blossoms. In the summer you can enjoy ukai (cormorant fishing) and fireworks, in the fall the foliage and in the winter the beautiful snowscape.

kintai-kyo-bridge5
https://www.flickr.com

Additionally, during the Kintai Kyo Festival held on April 29th of each year, there is a parade held with people dressed in Edo period costume. It is a must see. Information: Map

 

3. Kazura Bashi Bridge

蔓橋, Tokushima Prefecture
Length 45 meters, Width 2 meters, Height from the water surface 14 meters

kazura-bashi-bridge1
https://www.flickr.com

What’s been garnering attention recently is the Kazura-bashi Bridge that is built over the Iya River in Miyoshi of Tokushima Prefecture. The Kazura-bashi is a suspension bridge and as you can see, it in a rarely visited region in the deep mountains. In fact this Iya region is a world heritage site along with Shirakawa go of Gifu Prefecture and Shiibason of Miyazaki Prefecture and is also one of the Top 3 Untrodden Areas of Japan. The Kazura-bashi which was built about 800 years ago by the defeated solders of the Taira clan, is built primitively from woven shirakuchi-kazura vine so that it could be cut off immediately at the sight of any enemies advancing.

kazura-bashi-bridge2
https://www.flickr.com

Currently, the insides of the shirakuchi-kazura vines have wires in them and they are replaced every 3 years. So you see, they are mindful about safety too.

kazura-bashi-bridge3
https://www.flickr.com

…even so, it’s quite astonishing. It’s very breezy and you can see right through to the river waters 14 meters below. Don’t be too scared, go ahead and try crossing over.

kazura-bashi-bridge4
https://www.flickr.com, Information: Map

 

Did you feel that all of the bridges introduced here had Japanese style distinctiveness? Other than the well-known tourist regions of Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan still has many other attractive destinations in regional areas. We look forward to introducing them to you.

Related: Iya Valley: One of Top 3 Untrodden Areas of Japan with Many Legends

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