Photographer's Note


Hoi Anís Japanese Bridge ó AM

This is the Japanese covered bridge in the morning on my way to breakfast. Someone told me there are only two covered bridges in Vietnam ó this one and another one at Thanh Toŗn village near Hue. I am not affirmative on the quantity, but for your information, here is the picture of the Thanh Toŗn Tile-roofed Bridge. Tomorrow I will share with you how it looks in midnight ó "Hoi Anís Japanese Bridge ó PM".

Morning comes to Hoi An, an ancient Vietnamese Town. The city is in central Vietnam. It began receiving foreign trading ships during the late 16th century. In the 17th century, Japanese merchants sailed here aboard Shuinsen, ships granted permission to trade overseas by the Japanese Shogunate government. In the 18th century, Chinese people started to settle here and built houses that are still part of the cityscape. Houses were built with a narrow shop front and a small front entrance to allow as many merchants as possible.

One of the old bridges in Hoi An is called the "Japanese Bridge". It was originally built by the Japanese and later rebuilt and named 這座橋 (GiŠ Tọa Kiều) by the Chinese. The bridge is also known as "Lai Viễn Kiều" (Lai Vien Bridge), in other words a bridge of friends from faraway countries. At first sight, it resembles pictures from the early Edo period, when Japanese merchants came here to trade for silk and spices. Several hundred Japanese lived here and created a Japanese quarter. Most of the remaining old town was built by the Chinese. This is a typical single-storey house built over 150 years ago. Here triple-layered beams add great character to the building. Successive masters of this house have taken care of it by regularly applying resin to the surface before the beginning of the new Chinese New Year. The house is narrow and long, extending past the inner garden and deep into the rear. These houses are similar to the merchant houses in Kyoto in Japan. The kitchen is at the farthest end of the house.

As the number of foreign visitors increases many people are thinking about repairing their old houses. Renovation requires special skills and is expensive. To keep tradition alive, old timber building parts are taken out and re-used where possible. The same kind of wood must also be used when new parts are made. People on bicycles now have to push their bikes across the Japanese bridge. The people of Hoi An now think seriously about protecting their traditional heritage and culture.


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 472 W: 125 N: 2331] (8456)
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