Japanese Covered Bridge
This beautiful little bridge is emblematic of Hoi An. A bridge was first constructed here in the 1590s by the Japanese community to link them with the Chinese quarters. Over the centuries the ornamentation has remained relatively faithful to the original Japanese design. The French flattened out the roadway for cars, but the original arched shape was restored in 1986. The bridge is due for a complete removal for repair, so check it’s open before you travel, if making a special trip.
The structure is very solidly constructed because of the threat of earthquakes. The entrances to the bridge are guarded by weathered statues: a pair of monkeys on one side, a pair of dogs on the other. According to one story, many of Japan’s emperors were born in the years of the dog and monkey. Another tale says that construction of the bridge started in the year of the monkey and was finished in the year of the dog. The stelae, listing all Vietnamese and Chinese contributors to a subsequent restoration of the bridge, are written in chu nho (Chinese characters) – the nom script had not yet become popular. While access to the Japanese Bridge is free, you have to surrender a ticket to see a small, unimpressive temple built into the bridge’s northern side. If you are challenged for simply crossing the bridge, politely explain that you are not there for the temple.