Sisterhood of the Traveling Books (Episode 6)

The Kintai Bridge

The Kintai Bridge

IMG_0281A few days ago, we drove to see the Kintai Bridge and surrounding park. Thousands of people visit the Kintai-kyo area each year to see the structure, billed as one of the three great bridges of Japan. The 5-arched wooden bridge crosses the Nishiki River and was originally constructed in 1673. It is an example of brilliant engineering that once separated the commoners from the samurai elite. Built and rebuilt numerous times due to flooding, the bridge was finally built with modern construction after a small tax was implemented to assist with care and maintenance. In 1950 typhoon Kijia took down the bridge, and repairs from the typhoon lasted until the reconstruction of 2004 when the arches were dismantled one-by-one to be transported to a workshop off-site. Using the existing pieces as a template, the bridge was constructed off-site to ensure everything fit properly, dismantled, and then transported to the bridge site and re-assembled.

The flowers were phenomenal. My daughter, Melanie, wandered the banks of a river filled with irises.

The flowers were phenomenal. My daughter, Melanie, wandered the banks of a river filled with irises.

The irises grew in the water. I've never seen irises grow this way anywhere else.

The irises grew in the water. I’ve never seen irises grow this way anywhere else.

We also toured the park built on the bridge site. I was particularly struck by a beautiful statue of Kojiro Sasaki, the rival of the famous double-sword samurai Musashi Miyamoto. According to the novel of Musashi Miyamoto written by Eiji Yoshikawa, Kojiro was born in Iwakuni and was a handsome samurai who used a very long sword. In a novel written by Genzo Murakami, Kojiro was born in Fukui but may have only been a character in folklore. Stories say that Kojiro would practice his long sword under the Kintai bridge and fatally lost a battle against Musashi in 1612. (But the Kintai Bridge wasn’t constructed until 1673! Hmmmmmm…) Regardless of the glitches in his history, the man obviously has great taste in literature.

The great samurai, Kojiro Sasaki, keeps Susan Kaye's book, None But You, nearby to help him relax after hours of holding his pose for tourists.

The great samurai, Kojiro Sasaki, keeps Susan Kaye’s book, None But You, nearby to help him relax after hours of holding his pose for tourists.

IMG_0322
These white strips of paper that are carefully tied to trees and bushes are actually fortunes. Popular during festivals and new year celebrations, but found all year round, omikujis will either provide ‘great good luck’ (daikichi) or ‘great bad luck’ (daikyo). They are tied to tree branches for good fortune to come true and for bad fortune to be averted. This tree was just inside the entrance of the Kikko Shrine.

The Kintai Castle is reached by cable car. It houses a collection of armor and weapons.

The Kintai Castle is reached by cable car. It houses a collection of armor and weapons.


The reflections along the river are beautiful.

The reflections along the river are beautiful.


Near the entrance of Kikko Shrine stand a pair of opposing guardian lion-dog statues called ‘komainu.' The customary mouth open/mouth shut posture represents the ‘beginning and the end of all things.' The open-mouth statue represents the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet “a” while the closed-mouth statue represents the last letter 'um.' It reminded me of The Great Stone Dragon in 'Mulan.'

Near the entrance of Kikko Shrine stand a pair of opposing guardian lion-dog statues called ‘komainu.’ The customary mouth open/mouth shut posture represents the ‘beginning and
the end of all things.’ The open-mouth statue represents the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet ‘a’
while the closed-mouth statue represents the last
letter ‘um.’ It reminded me of The Great Stone Dragon in ‘Mulan.’


Not to be outdone by Elizabeth Elliot, Captain Wentworth and Anne photobomb the Kinsai Bridge.

Not to be outdone by Elizabeth Elliot, Captain Wentworth and Anne photobomb the Kinsai Bridge.

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3 thoughts on “Sisterhood of the Traveling Books (Episode 6)

  1. Susan Kaye

    Frederick has always longed to go to the Orient. His secretly envied Sophie and the Admiral for getting to India. You, Robin, have fulfilled one of his great desires. Thank you. Now, he’d like me to finish Book 3 so that he can get on with married life!

    Thanks again, Robin.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      That book is the one you autographed for Gayle to give to my daughter Mandy when she was in the Navy. She has your second book, too.

      I’m with Frederick. Write that third book!

      Like

      Reply

Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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