The Japanese Bridge is one of the most distinguished structures in a city known for its ancient architecture.
The pagoda-covered crossing was originally constructed by the city’s Japanese community in the early 1600s. Its purpose was to join the Japanese with the Chinese merchants living on the east side of the canal. It’s therefore as much a symbol of peace and friendship as it is a practical structure. Today the bridge is a major tourist attraction and a great place for photos.
The Japanese Bridge spans a narrow strip of canal connecting Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street and Tran Phu Street. It has been rebuilt a number of times since its inception but retains its character and strong Japanese style. The names of all those involved in its reconstruction are noted on a sign on the bridge. Its original architect, however, remains unknown.
The wooden sign that hangs at the entrance to the bridge was installed in the 1700s changing the name from “Japanese Bridge” to “Bridge for Travellers from Afar.” Inside the pagoda is a shrine dedicated to the god Tran Vo Bac De, believed to have control over the weather.
Keep watch for the animal sculptures on your way in and out of the bridge. At one end is a dog, and at the other, a monkey. This is believed to be because construction was begun in the year of the dog and completed in the year of the monkey.
To cross the Japanese Bridge you will need to pay a small fee. Take the time to peruse the cafés and art galleries that line the streets either side of the bridge, but beware the sometimes steep prices in these areas. The bridge is one of Hoi An’s best photo opportunities; return after dark to catch it lit with paper lanterns.