Hoi An’s most iconic attractions, Japanese covered bridge is a beautiful historical of Japanese architecture that dates back to the 18th century. No trip to Hoi An would be completed without visiting this beautiful yet symbolic bridge.
The beautiful history of Japanese Covered Bridge
Japanese Covered Bridge has its Vietnamese name – Chua Cau – meaning Bridge Pagoda. It is claimed that it was created by the Japanese then living in Hoi An as a way to reach the Chinese quarter across the water. This is the only design originated from Japan in history.
But Why The Japanese built this bridge?
According to Japanese Myth, the causing of earthquake is due to a world-spanning fish monster called ” Namazu”, whose head was in India and its tail in Japan. Only the god Kashima can restrain Namazu and with the help of a heavy capstone he will push the fish against the foundations of earth. However the god sometimes got tired or is distracted from his duty, Namazu will use these moments to wiggle its tail, causing an earthquake in the Japan.
As Vietnam was located in the area of the Namazu’s back, the Japanese Covered Bridge was intended to pin The Namazu down, thus preventing any earthquakes. The bridge was to build for this religious purpose.
In term of architecture, Japanese Covered Bridge owns a unique tile-covered roof, a curved-shaped aisle, and two narrow corridors in both sides for the rest. The frontispiece of the temple overlooks riverbanks romantic Thu Bon River. In particular, both the pagoda and bridge are made of wood, red lacquer trimmed gold and many motifs meticulously carved in the harmonious combination between the architectural styles of Vietnam, China and Japan.
The bridge also features the sculptures of two dogs and two monkeys representing the Chinese years in which many Japanese Emperors were born along with the fact that the building of the bridge began in the year of the dog and was completed in the year of the monkey.
In 1719, Nguyen Phuc Chu Lord visited Hoi An and found the bridge so special, then he named the bridge as ” Lai Vien Kieu” – which means ” A faraway friend comes”. Nowadays, you can see the three Chinese symbols carved on the door in front of the bridge.
On the north side of the bridge you’ll discover a temple dedicated to the Taoist God of weather, Tran Vo Bac De. This is where locals will often pray to stave off any impending earthquakes. The monkey and dog animal statues guard the bridge at either end along with an ancient Chinese script at one end written in Chu Nho, listing all the benefactors who contributed to the restoration of the bridge.
Crossing over the bridge you will find plenty of paintings for sale by artists living in the vicinity. The bridge is about 60 feet in length and simply, yet colorfully painted in red with a wooden pagoda roof. The Japanese Covered Bridge is very well preserved and features a roof meaning you can visit at any time of day regardless of the heat or the rain.
The Japanese Covered Bridge underwent renovation work in 1986 which saw the restoration of the arch that was once flattened to make way for cars. Today, the bridge stands as a symbol of Hoi An and remains as aesthetically pleasing as it was when it first opened.
Location: The bridge is located at the west end of Tran Phu Street in Hoi An and is easily reached from the town centre. Remarks: There are no restrictions with regards to dress code and the bridge is always open.