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Goin’ Japanesque!

Horai Bridge – the Guinness Certified World’s Longest Wooden Footbridge

Do you know where the world’s longest wooden footbridge is located? It’s in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. We introduce you to the features of the bridge, which has been and still is the Guinness world record holder along with some must-visit tourist spots with extraordinary views in the surrounding areas. Ref: Photo

 

Horai Bridge

蓬萊橋
Size: 2.4 Meters Wide / 897.422 Long (World’s Longest)
Directions: About 20 Minute Walk from JR Shimada Station / * Taking a taxi from the station is recommended. Information: Map

horai-bashi-bridge2
https://ja.wikipedia.org/

Horai Bridge in Shizuoka Prefecture was built in 1879 over the Oi River. It was certified by the Guinness World Records as the longest wooden footbridge in the world. Only the piers have been reinforced with concrete but the whole structure still remains as it was first built in 1879 and perfectly good to use even now.

Horai Bridge was built back in the Edo Period (17th – 19th century) because the Oi River was one of the difficult spots for travelers taking the Tokaido (one of the most important travelling routes at the time). People had to use a boat to cross the river when there was no bridge and it was quite dangerous. Horai Bridge was expected to free travelers from such an inconvenience.

Another purpose for constructing the bridge was the agricultural development of the Makinohara Plateau, which is across the bridge from the land which today consists mainly of residential and commercial areas. The plateau is today known as one of Japan’s representative producing areas of green tea. So the agricultural project marked the beginning of the bridge as well as one of Japan’s largest green tea plantations.

The reasons that crossing Horai Bridge is believed to bring a good luck:

  • “Long wood,” or “nagai ki” in Japanese, can also be articulated as “naga iki, which means “long life.”
  • The total length of the bridge is 897.4 meters and the number (8974) can be pronounced in Japanese as “yakunashi,” which means “free from evil luck.”

It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cross Horai Bridge one way. As you cross the bridge, you can fully enjoy the Japanese beauty of the mountains and other natural elements surrounding the area. Below are the great features of Horai Bridge for you to get a general picture before you actually visit it.

 

#1 One of Japan’s Few Toll Bridges

horai-bashi-bridge3
https://ja.wikipedia.org/

Horai Bridge is well known as one of Japan’s few toll bridges. A toll box is set up at the entrance, in which adults, children and bike users each throw 100 Yen, 10 Yen and 100 Yen respectively, to cross the bridge. The bridge is accessible 24 hours.

#2 Scarier Than A Roller Coaster?

horai-bashi-bridge4
http://9.pro.tok2.com/~seabird1297/

Many people who have crossed Horai Bridge would tell you how scary it was. That’s because the railings on both sides of the bridge have only the height up to about an average adult calf and you have to cross the bridge without holding onto anything. It surely is pretty scary to walk 7 to 8 meters above the water surface of the Oi River on the deck of only 2.4 meters wide without hanging onto railings.

The squeaking sound of the wood may remind you of the old age of the bridge and feel very atmospheric while it could also cause you to feel scared. The wind sometimes blows strongly over the bridge, so it is advised to bring an extra outer wear and cross the bridge with utmost care. Special caution is needed on rainy days because the deck can become slippery.

#3 Don’t Miss the View of Mt. Fuji from the Bridge

When it’s clear, you can enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji from the middle of the bridge. The wooden deck board located right in the middle of the bridge is marked with Japanese words meaning “dead-on center,” so you will know when you are right in the middle. But never forget to mind your step even where you are astonished by the beauty of Mt. Fuji.

#4 Lighting Up: Illusionary Collaboration between Past and Present

horai-bashi-bridge5
http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/donky_hongkong

If you look closely at the bridge, you will find it equipped with about 720 LED bulbs, which can be solar powered during daytime and light up automatically at night. The green lights are so fantastic that it almost seems as if you would end up in another world once you reach the other end of the illuminated bridge.

#5 Location for the NHK Drama “Toto Neechan”

Toto-Neechan
Horai Bridge was featured in the TV drama “Toto Neechan (Sister Toto),” which is currently being aired as a morning drama (asadora) show on NHK. The beauty of the bridge is so renowned that it was also featured in a number of other dramas and movies such as “Hana No Ran” (NHK “Taiga” drama) and the movie “Talk of the Town Tora-san” (Otoko wa Tsurai yo: Uwasa no Torajiro). If you get to see the bridge at the dusk, you will surely feel like you are in a scene from a Japanese historical drama.

#6 The Makinohara Plateau across the Bridge is a Must-See!

makinohara-fuji
Mt. Fuji and the Makinohara Plateauhttp://www.yuruyakuzen.net/

It would be a waste of great opportunity if you turn back immediately once you get to the end of the bridge. Yes, that’s because across the bridge is the Makinohara Plateau we already mentioned above. As it is currently the picking season of green tea, you will get to see the green tea plantations spread throughout the vast area overlooked by Mt. Fuji. The whole scenery will look as if it’s covered with soft green carpets. Make sure to check out the Makinohara Plateau, which has become one of Japan’s largest green tea producing areas thanks to Horai Bridge.

Related: 4 Best Scenic Tea Plantations: Healthy Matcha and other Japanese Green Tea

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