Kyoto landmark: Togetsukyo Bridge

ARASHIYAMA. The image of the bamboo forest comes to mind. The path of the tall grass was the only thing I know of the place, but there was so much more the area offers than the verdant trail I desired to traverse.

There are Kyoto attractions, just like the Tenmangu Shrine at the end of the Nishiki market, which may not be on one’s must-visit list, but when it reveals itself, it can lure us in, makes us linger and tells us its interesting history.

The Togetsukyo Bridge at the Arashiyama district was another one of these beautiful surprises. The river and the bridge spanning over it were the first things I saw when I alit the bus to get to the bamboo forest. It was quite scenic that a shot would make a perfect Instagram post.

 

Finding Togetsukyo Bridge
Finding Togetsukyo Bridge

 

With so many people around it, it made me wonder what’s special about the area. Beyond the attractive scenery was an interesting story.

 

Finding Togetsukyo Bridge
All about Togetsukyo Bridge

 

An iconic landmark of Arashiyama, the Togetsukyo Bridge, spans 155 meters over a slow-flowing river. It was originally built and completed in the year 836, in the Heian Period (794-1185). The wooden bridge’s original location, 200 meters upstream, was constantly damaged and wiped out by the recurring flood and was constantly restored.

In 1934, on the Togetsukyo’s most recent restoration in its present position, the bridge was constructed with reinforced concrete. Cypress wood is still part of the design and used on the parapets.

 

Finding Togetsukyo Bridge
The riverbank park, Nakashonima Park, is popular picnic spot most especially during the cherry blossom season.

 

The Togetsukyo Bridge translates to “Moon Crossing Bridge.” How did it get its name? Credit Emperor Kameyama for that.

During the Kamakura period (1185-1333), on the night of a full moon, the emperor went boating on the river and said that the moon looked like it was crossing the bridge.

 

Hop into one of the boats and cruise the Oi River.

 

Here’s another interesting feature of the bridge, the river on both sides of the bridge are called by different names—west of the bridge is the Hozu River and Katsura River on its east side.

The bridge is the link to the other attractions in the area, like the Iwatayama Monkey Park.

 

The gateway to the Iwatayama Monkey Park. Access the park via the Togetsukyo Bridge.

 

Since it has become a very touristy area, there are riyokans, restaurants and souvenir shops in the area.

Adding to the charm of the Togetsukyo Bridge are the rickshaws that traverse the bridge and the forested mountainside as its backdrop.

 

Finding Togetsukyo Bridge
A smile that’ll make anyone want to ride his rickshaw

 

Finding Togetsukyo Bridge
A rickshaw driver, one of the many enterprising youth that offers an Arashiyama tour aboard the traditional Japanese vehicle.

 

The different seasons tint the scenery in different colors: green in summer, red and gold in autumn, the mountain is blanketed in snow in winter and spring offers a burst of pink from the cherry blossom trees that grow in the park by the river bank near the bridge.

So, no matter what time of the year you visit Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama, it will be breathtaking. I have three more good reasons to revisit the bridge after catching it on the “green” season.

Here’s a tip, access Arashiyama by train (three companies service the destination: Japan, Keifuku and Hankyu railways). The bus ride can take too long because of the heavy traffic along the way.

 

Finding Togetsukyo Bridge
Arashiyama area map in Japanese. Just locate where you are & start from there.

 

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit www.ofapplesandlemons.com & www.jeepneyjinggoy.com

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.

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