Famous as the district though which Sakamoto Ryoma traveled when leaving the Tosa clan, Ozu city’s Kawabe district is situated within a deep secluded mountain valley in the southern part of Ehime prefecture near the border of Kochi prefecture.
Kawabe district is home to the “Roman‑hakkyo”, a rare collection of covered bridges. This time we will introduce three of the eight bridges.
The first is “Fureaibashi” . Constructed as the symbol of Kawabe Furusato Park,to which it is connected, this newish bridge was completed in 1991.
Feeling anxious about a future where covered bridges would gradually decrease in number as a result of society becoming motorized, local people constructed the bridge together with other Furusato Park facilities in order to leave a part of this culture for future generations.
The next bridge is “Obiebashi”. Though the roof has in recent years been replaced with zinc to improve its appearance, this wooden bridge has a far longer history.
This is a view from beneath the roof. Covered bridges were originally created as a countermeasure to structural decay caused by rain and dew. However, to create a resting space for visitors, today you can find tables and benches underneath.
And finally, the oldest of the eight covered bridges: “Miyuki-no-hashi”.
Possibly because it connects to a shrine, unlike other covered bridges this one has an almost sacred atmosphere.
Although the bridge’s gabled roof is made of cedar bark, and the girders are made of cedar wood, the pillars, handrails and stepping boards are constructed of Japanese zelkova timber without the use of a single nail.
We glanced back while crossing the bridge… When the soft rays of autumn sunlight shine between the pillars, you can feel the warmth of the wooden structure.
We crossed the bridge. Actually, this bridge is said to have been used by Sakamoto Ryoma when he left the Tosa clan. In the surrounding area you can find stone monuments and signs with information related to Ryoma.
Miyuki-no-hashi was originally constructed in 1773 (3rd year of the An’ei era), but was washed away in the heavy floods of 1886 (19th year of the Meiji era). The current structure is said to have been completed in the same year with the support of Ishiura, a parish representative.
Miyuki-no-hashi in harmony with its surroundings and autumn leaves… The bridge has been designated a ‘tangible cultural property’ of Ehime prefecture.
This landscape with its covered bridges embodies the knowledge of the people living in the deep, secluded mountain valley. It is also a spot famed for being part of Sakamoto Ryoma’s road of escape from the Tosa domain. Every year in September it is used to stage part of an event where people wear traditional straw sandals and follow Ryoma’s footsteps.
How about taking part in a simulation of Sakamoto Ryoma’s escape across Miyuki-no-hashi?
Location: Kitahira, Kawabecho ,Ozu city, Ehime Prefecture
Home Page：http://www.oozukankou.jp/kanko-k.html (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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