Japanese Covered Bridge - The symbol of Hoian
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The Japanese Covered Bridge or Pagoda Bridge (in Vietnamese “Cau Nhat Ban”) is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Hoi An, Vietnam. 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 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.
The bridge was constructed with a roof so that it could be used as a shelter from both rain and sun. To name the bridge, Nguyen Phuc Chu Lord, in his trip to Hoi An in 1719, carved prominently 3 Chinese characters above the door: “Lai Vien Kieu” ( “Bridge for passengers by from Afar”).
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.
One theory of the bridge’s religious purpose is that it was built to subdue a world-spanning ‘mamazu’ dragon monster, whose head was located in India and its tail in Japan. The movement of the tail was believed to cause earthquakes in Japan. As Vietnam was located in the area of mamazu’s back, the bridge was intended to pin the mamazu down, thus preventing any earthquakes.
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.