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Japanese covered bridge


 

 

This famed bridge (Cau Nhat Ban) connects Tran Phu with Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. the first bridge on this site was constructed in the 1590s. It was built by the Japanese com-munity of Hoi An in order to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream. 
The Japanese Covered Bridge is very solidly constructed; the original builders were con-cerned about the threat of earthquakes. Over the centuries the ornamentation has remained relatively faithful to the original Japanese design. Its understatement contrasts greatly with the Vietnamese and Chinese penchant for wild decoration. The French flattened out the road way to make it suitable for their motor vehicles, but the original arched shape was restored during major renovation work in 1986. Built into the northern side of the bridge is a small temple. The writing over its door is the name given to the bridge in 1719 to replace the name meaning Japanese Covered Bridge. However the new name, Lai Vien Kieu (Bridge for Passers-by from Afar), never quite caught on. According to legend, there once lived an enormous monster called Cu, who had its head in India, its tail in Japan and its body in Vietnam. Whenever the monster moved, terrible disasters such as floods and earthquakes befell Vietnam. This bridge was built on the monster's weakest point and killed it, but the people of Hoi An took pity on the slain monster and built this temple to pray for its soul. The entrances of the bridge are guarded by a pair of monkeys on one side and a pair of dogs on the other. According to one story, these animals were popularly revered because many of Japan s emperors were born in 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 the 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 in 
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