Last Updated on 3 years by Tam Le Van
Japanese Cover Bridge is the enblem of Hoi An Ancient Town World Heritage Site and also for wider Hoi An city. Additionally, this centuries-old building is a representative for cohension of different communities living in the town formerly: built by Japanese, rebult by Chinese and formed by hands&brain of local Vietnamese. Today, it is a must-see. Never been in the bridge, you never travel to Hoi An! In this article, HOIAN LIFE gives you (especially first timers) everything about Japanese Covered Bridge to understand more its different aspects.
General information about Japanese Covered Bridge
Opening time: Twenty-four hours (its temple part opens from 6 a.m to 10 p.m), ticket required from 7 a.m until 9 p.m
“Day of birth”: Beginning of 17th century
Ticket: 120.000 VND (5.2 USD), buy at yellow-colored ticket booths standing on main roads towards ‘Hoi An Ancient Town’ designated area or the one close by its Tran Phu street entrance, include 5 sightseeing places (you have four sites left if come into Japanese Covered Bridge). For further information about the ticket and its included sites in Hoi An Life’s article through http://hoianlife.net/hoi-an-ancient-town-ticket-and-included-sitess-complete-guide/.
Regulations for tourists: Tourists are required to wear clothes covering armpits, abdomen and kneeses. Additionally, keeping silence inside the temple, no littering and touch on relics are other regulations.
Japanese Covered Bridge’s history
When it was built?
Nobody knows the exact day when Japanese Covered Bridge was constructed but if ask about which historic period, locals can make sure that is 17th century. At the time, Japanese merchants built it to connect their trading streets with China town on opposite canal bank. When visit the bridge, you will see a stone stele written by Chinese (former administrative language of Vietnam) telling about this event at its entrance.
Interestingly, four sacred animals (two monkeys and two dogs) at two heads of Japanese Covered Bridge also reveal its building duration. There is two years, starting from Year of Monkey to Year of Dog in lunar calendar. Vietnamese have a lovely nickname for these statues as ‘four fairy ladies’.
Japanese Covered Bridge across a canal called by locals as Ồ Ồ (Ào Ào). This name originates from its loud sound when flow fast in the past. Nowadays, it gets calmer very much and little smelly but goverment efforts will make the scene better in near future.
Japanese legend relates to construction of Japanese Covered Bridge
Japanese believe that there is a massive sea monster named Mamazu that its head is in Japan, its tail is in India and its middle part lies at Hoi An. Whenever it moves, Japanese will suffer from earthquakes in their homeland as well as not run business smoothly in Hoi An. For that reason, they constructed a bridge functioning like a sword straight down to take control of it. So, it is just a legend and the main purpose still belongs to creating a connection between Japanese and Chinese towns.
Chinese reconstruction and addition
When Japanese left Hoi An by government request in 1653, Chinese and Vietnamese were totally resonsible for preservation of Japanese Covered Bridge. Especially, Chinese rich merchants reconstructed it in various times and added a new small temple at its back for worshipping Xuandi Taoism god who brings happiness, prosperity and good safety to people. More than that, he also handles flooding what annually occurs in Hoi An. Information about all these events were recorded on a couple of memorial steles as well as wooden roof frame of the bridge (in Chinese).
The statue of Xuandi god (God of the North, Black god) inside Japanese Covered Bridge’s temple is a copy. The original one was swept away by flooding and kept in Hoi An Museum after found it again.
Materials, hands of workers and brain of craftmans in constructing, reconstructing, maintenancing and preserving of Japanese Covered Bridge over centuries are Vietnamese contributions. First of all, the bulk of main building materials source from craft villages around Hoi An such as roof tiles of Thanh Ha pottery making village, woodworks of Kim Bong carpentry village. Skillfull craftmans in these existing communities had participation in whole its building stages as well.
Architecture of Japanese Covered Bridge
Bridge part of the Japanese Covered Bridge is of traditional architectural style named as ‘Thuong gia ha kieu’. It means ‘upper house upon a bridge’. A powerful symbol, ‘two dragons heading the sun’ is added on its tiled roof top to increase the majesty. This image also presents at Cam Pho communal house, Chinese assembly halls as well as holy temples in Hoi An’s outskirt.
Temple component of the Japanese Covered Bridge was added by Chinese in 1653. Above its main door, there is a couple of wooden eyes with carvings like daisy flower (an unique element to Hoi An) and a good-looking board with three Chinese-Lai Vien Kieu (meaning ‘welcome friend from far away’ bridge) named by Nguyen Phuc Chu lord in 1719. Interior furnitures include a central altar of Xuandi Taoism god, some relics found in archeological programs, photos and other intricate decorative items.
Japanese Covered Bridge and local spiritual life
After living together in a very long time, Chinese temple of Japanese Covered Bridge turns into a popular religious site to Vietnamese. Every single 1st and 15th days of each lunar month, people come to it and pray for good things in life. The building has another nickname then, Chua Cau (‘pagoda bridge’). This new&cute name has been used strongly until now (and more than any other previous names).
Buddhism culture has impacted considerably on Vietnamese spiritual life for centuries. Therefore, many non-Buddhism facilities are called as pagodas to create a certain familiarity to this community. In Hoi An, besides Japanese Covered Bridge, assembly halls are also in the same case.
What to do near Japanese Covered Bridge?
Enjoy Vietnamese coffee culture in the morning
Small coffee stalls along streets near Japanese Covered Bridge is well-liked spots to locals for meeting up in the morning. People usually prefer to sit on low stools, face streets, enjoy dark-roasted coffee (quite strong&bitter) together with iced green tea and spend time with friends. It costs around 10.000 VND-15.000 VND (0.43-0.65 USD) for a cup of coffee and may be more for other drinks.
Visit other attractions inside Hoi An Ancient Town
During the day, you may come to lots of attractions around Japanese Covered Bridge. Generally, some places are ticket-required (inclusions of Hoi An Ancient Town ticket) but a number of sites without ticket. See them all as following below:
Ticketed sites: Old house of Phung Hung (4 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street), Nguyen Tuong Family Chapel (8 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street), Cantonese Assembly Hall (176 Tran Phu street), Hoi An Museum of Sa Huynh Culture (149 Tran Phu street), Old house of Tan Ky (101 Nguyen Thai Hoc street).
Cong Nu Ngoc Hoa food street
Riverside Cong Nu Ngoc Hoa food street is held daily from 5 p.m until around 10 p.m. Basically, it encompasses outdoor seatings of river-facing restaurants (offering street foods&Hoi An specialties) and couples of vendors. In this place, you may expect for more comfortable vibes than the night market on Nguyen Hoang street. However, not all dishes here bring you the ‘local authenticity’ in taste, ingredients and way of serving.
Note: Alcohol drinks are not allowed in Cong Nu Ngoc Hoa food street. If want to get a beer, taste delicious dishes and enjoy sparkling Hoi An river by night, you should come to establishments on Bach Dang and Nguyen Phuc Chu streets.
See traditional art of Bai Choi (in the evening)
Presence of the art of Bai Choi is in nine provinces along Vietnam central coast, including Hoi An. It consists of both singing and gaming performances. In the past, people held it during spring festivals and attracted plenty of attendees because of its gravitation. But over time, less and less young persons know about it.
To promote this UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, Hoi An authority arranged a space just for Bai choi near An Hoi bridge. When wander around, definitely you may notice its funny sounds from singer voice, player cheerings and audiences.
Getting a lantern boat ride
Right at the immediate surrounding of Japanese Covered Bridge, you may find local wooden boats to get a boat trip along colorful Hoi An river after 5 p.m. The cost is around 50.000 VND (2.2 USD) per person, during 15 to 30 minutes depending on your need and number of people. Keep in mind that a candle lantern can be included in the price so make sure of this once say okay and get on any. Read our article about Hoi An boat trips for further information.
Hoi An night market
200 meters away from Japanese Covered Bridge, Nguyen Hoang night market (widely known as Hoi An night market) is a stunning nightlife spot after taking time for visiting and shopping in the Old town. It often opens from 6 until 10 p.m (or mid-night in high seasons) and encompasses over 150 stalls where authentic local street foods, beautiful lanterns, sourvenirs and gifts selled. As the largest of its kind throughout the city, this is a must-see attraction. Bear in mind to keep your eyes on personal items like wallet in the crowds when visit around. For further details, see Hoi An Life’s full article about all markets.
If you’re a fan of street foods, make sure Hoi An Night Market is on your bucket list. It offers nearly every local specialty in mid-ranged cost.