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   Vietnam > Hoi An > Hoi An > Japanese Covered Bridge
Japanese Covered Bridge
Japanese Covered Bridge
At the west end of Tran Phu Street
Lai Vien Kieu
Section 1 on 1

Hoi An
Bridge(s)

near 1610

Area related : Hoi An

UNESCO World Heritage Site (Définitif) : 1999

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The only old bridge of Hoi An, also called Chua Cau (pagoda Bridge) by the locals, is now one of the symbols of the town.
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Description   
West of the Old Town, and linking Nguyen Thi Minh Kai and Tran Phu Street, it crosses a small canal that flows into Thu Bon River.

This bridge is 18 meters long, 3 meters wide, and has 7 compartments. Sheltering an altar in the middle, the bridge is also used as a place of worship. The pagoda is said to protect the bridge and the inhabitants against monsters and to grant peace for the town.

The exact date of the construction of the bridge is not known for sure. May be the Japanese built it at the beginning of the 17th century. The bridge underwent renovations in 1653, 1763, 1817, 1865, 1915 and 1917. The last renovation was in 1986. The actual architecture as we know it today is characteristic of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The bridge boasts a distinctive architecture, typical of tropical Asian countries. Built on stone foundations, it is a covered bridge, with a roof of doule tiles.

The japanese architecture is clearly visible on the outside of the bridge, notably the curved rood with its turned-up corners. Inside, the style is more Sine-Vietnamese. The bridge is arched and paved with blocks of wood. On both sides, small plinths were ounce used to display goods for sales. The patterns and decoration lacquered and sculpted, harmoniously integrate Sino-Nippon-Vietnamese and Western art.

The pagoda situated in the middle of the bridge is dedicated to Saint Bac De Tran Vu. The pagoda was built about half a century after the bridge. Situated in the middle, in a alcove on one side, it is closed off by a wooden panel and a doorwith bars in it. Above the door, is a red horizontal panel with three yellow Chinese characters on it : "Lai Vien Kieu". It was a present form the Lord Nguyen Phuuc Chu, given during his visit to Hoi An in 1719. (His seal can be made out on the left of the panel).

Above the panel are two protective "eyes". The door has a lion and an open Japanese-style fan carved into it. The pagoda is dedicated to Saint Huyen Thien Dai De (Bac De Tran Vu), of Chinese origin. His statue has pride of place on the altar, in a majectic posture, one foot on the back of a tortoise, his arms crossed on his chest. The pagoda is dedicated to him because, according to the legend, this Saint overcame a monster and protected the inhabitants from plagues.

At each end of the bridge is a pair of statues, one of them dogs and the other monkeys. These statues are carved in jackfruit wood. In front of each statue, there is a vase with joss-sticks. Some people explain that their presence by the fact that the construction of the bridge started the year of the Monkey and ended the year of the Dog. Ithers says that it is linked to the Japanese tradition. According to oriental belief, plagues (earthquakes, floods and dryness) are caused by a sea monster which head is in Japan, body in Vietnam and tail in China. It is called Mamazu by the Japanese, Cau Long by the Chinese and Con Cu by the Viernamese. Every time it moves, its provokes some natural catastrophes. The statues on the bridge might have been put here by the Japanese to control this monster, since the dog and the monkey are sacred animals according to their Totem religion. Other legend is said that the construction started in the year of the Monkey, and finished the year of the Dod, according to Chinese calendar.

On 17 February 1990, the bridge was recognized as a National Heritage Site of historical and culturel interest.
Site's content    

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Autel
near 1719

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Canal

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Celling

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Bridge
near 1610

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Bridge
near 1610

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Door
near 1719

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Bridge
Sizes : 3 m x 18 m
near 1610

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Bridge
Sizes : 3 m x 18 m
near 1610

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Edifice religieux
1719

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Animal
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Animal

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Animal
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Animal

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Statue
near 1719
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