Japanese Bridge (Chua Cau)

Japanese bridges for long have a reputation for their pure beauty of being graceful curves and the inspiration from Zen spirit. It’s no doubt that the most famous bridge of this kind in Vietnam is the one in Hoi An – the historic riverside town in the Central Part.
History and location
 
Legend has it that the bridge was built as a weapon of ancient people to deter the monster Mamazu, which has its head in India, its tail in Japan and its back in Vietnam, from causing earthquakes and other calamities. In fact, it was constructed by the Japanese trading community in 1593 to connect them with the Chinese area on the other side of a small stream. It remains until today as a spectacular attraction and is a beautiful trace of the Japanese influence in Vietnam.
 
This nearly-20m bridge connects the 2 major streets of Hoi An’s Old Quarter: Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St. and Tran Phu St., looking over the peaceful Thu Bon River.
 
What to see
 
Since the building of this site was started in 1593 – Year of the Monkey, and finished in 1595 – Year of the Dog, a pair of these two animals’ statues has been placed at both ends. They represent for the guardians of the bridge.
 
Japanese Bridge is renowned for its elaborate decorations, which can be most easily seen at the low entrance. Don’t miss the little porcelain bowls used to cap the ends of the tile, though the interior may be very dark. There’s a small temple on the north side of the bridge, right in the middle over the stream. In addition, visitors may find several interesting galleries at the other end. 
 
Such a place can’t be ignored for those who want to take photos, with a charming historical background and amazing red faded colour. Night is when it looks more elegant, thanks to the lighting.
 
How to get there
 
Admission is free and tourists staying in the town may pass through this bridge few times a day. Hiring a bike to tour around is highly recommended, since the town is so small and there’s no need to worry about the traffic. 

 

Location: The Hoi An Japanese Bridge crosses a small canal on the west end of the Old Town, connecting Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street to Tran Phu Street - the main thoroughfare along the river. Art galleries and cafes line both sides of the peaceful street beyond.

Remarks: There are no restrictions with regards to dress code and the bridge is always open. Although anyone can photograph the bridge, crossing the Hoi An Japanese Bridge requires a coupon included in the entry fee ($4.50) for Hoi An's Old Town attractions. A lack of coupon isn't always a problem for crossing the bridge; tickets are rarely checked.

 

 

The original Vietnamese name of this bridge is “Lai Vien Kieu”. It is considered that the Japanese Covered Bridge belongs to the Japanese community in Hoi An, and was built in the early seventeenth century. No trip to Hoi An would be completely without visiting Japanese Covered bridge. The Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An is a beautiful example of the Japanese architecture of the period. The bridge was constructed with a roof so that it could be used as a shelter from both rain and sun. At one end of the bridge, there are 2 sculptures – of a dog and of a monkey. These two animals are symbols of sacredness in Japanese culture. Another reason behind these animal sculptures is that according to the Asian zodiac signs, in the year of the monkey and the year of the dog many of the Japanese Emperors were born. Records also say that the construction of the bridge was initiated in the dog year and was finished in the monkey year

Inside the Japanese Covered Bridge lies a temple of the northern God Tran Vo Bac De. This God is considered the God of Weather. People believe that He controls all kinds of weather changes and natural calamities, so the sailors both worship and fear Him. Another theory is the bridge is built to subdue a world-spanning ‘mamazu’ dragon monster, whose head was in India and tail in Japan. The tail was said to cause earthquakes in Japan. Vietnam is located in the area of the mamazu’s back so the bridge was built to pin the mamazu down preventing earthquakes.

The Japanese bridge has undergone relatively few modifications over the centuries. The French removed thresholds and leveled the road across the bridge to support motorized vehicles during their colonization. The changes were later undone and the bridge pedestrianized again during major restoration in 1986.

 

 

Although anyone can photograph the bridge, crossing the Hoi An Japanese Bridge requires a coupon included in the entry fee ($4.50) for Hoi An's Old Town attractions. A lack of coupon isn't always a problem for crossing the bridge; tickets are rarely checked.

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