Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Guest Post: A Bridge Too Far

Yesterday we drove up to a place in the low mountains of Northern Ibaraki called Suifu Village (known as "the treasurebox of nature"). The weather was beautiful - warm and clear - as you know. The area is even more rural than Naka and the hills or low mountains are lush with trees and bamboo. The wisteria trees are in bloom and look like a lavender version of Hawaii's shower trees. We only drove 60 miles, but it took over two hours as the fastest road we were on had a limit of 50 kmh or about 30 mph, and we had to go through surface streets of Mito city as well. Our average speed for the trip was 25 mph. [I am not complaining. I am very glad we don't have the mess of freeways here that the USA does. I hate to think what the countryside would look like if we did. Growing up in the 50's, I saw freeways destroy Southern California. And now days, it takes just as long to drive from the San Fernando Valley to San Diego and it did when I was a kid. Maybe longer.]

Our destination was a gorge where a flood control dam is located. Above the reservoir, spanning the gorge, is a steel suspension foot bridge a little over 1,000 feet long(!) called Ryujinkyo (god of the dragon) bridge. It is the longest pedestrian foot bridge in Japan. It goes to, well, nowhere. Why did the chicken cross the bridge? To fly a carp streamer I guess. It was built simply as a tourist attraction so people could enjoy the views of the otherwise unscarred natural beauty. (Inscrutable logic, like those people who want to put an arial tram across Haleakala on Maui. "This is such a beautiful place, we should build a tourist attraction here!"). The bridge has a nice wide walkway and plexiglas panels at a few points that allow you to stand on the plexiglas and look straight down at the lake some 300 feet below your feet.

They had two cables stretched across the gap, one on either side of the bridge about fifty to a hundred feet out, with hundreds of koinobori - carp streamers - on each one. It was pretty. The sound was neat too, like sails luffing. The bridge was closed for an hour just before we went across it due to the wind being too high. Comforting thought.

They also have a restaurant and shop to take your money. It costs about $3.00 to get on the bridge. There is a demonstration of solar and wind power by Mitsubishi Electric - a solar voltaic array and a small wind generator with large digital readouts to show the watts being generated. The solar array was cranking out a steady 1500 watts, even with carp streamers shadowing it at times, the turbine was producing 100-450 watts.

We also went below and walked across the dam which is not hydro electric, but strictly water management in nature. It has some impressive gates that weigh about 17 tons.

It was a great day out and an interesting blend of natural beauty, traditions, and engineering marvels.

(by Pandabonium)

One hell of a footbridge - 310 meters! Posted by Hello

Carpe diem. (Sorry, it was too obvious a pun to pass up.)  Posted by Hello

Comments from the Minstrel:
I have been to the bridge in Suifu. My wife was doing something up in Mito at the time and, just for the heck of it, I took a "quick" solo jaunt over to Ryujinkyo. (Actually, I've heard that translated as "Celestial Dragon Bridge" before). It was autumn, so there were no carp streamers, but there were some autumn leaves to be seen.

When I went across, I passed what was evidently a small family group as it consisted of a middle-aged couple, a younger adult couple, and a teenage girl that looked like the younger adult woman. They had been conversing very animatedly, but when I passed by they immediately stopped and stared at me.

The middle-aged woman muttered, "What in the world would a gaijin be doing here?" When that got a laugh out of the others, she followed through by saying in a louder voice in my direction, "Hey! This isn't Kyoto! There are no temples here!" That got an even bigger laugh out of them.

Evidently, they hadn't thought I could understand Japanese, because when I then said in that language, "This is very beautiful scenery," the laughing came to an abrupt halt, and they quickly hurried back across the bridge. That left me to enjoy the scenery all by myself until it was time for me to go back and rendezvous with the rest of my family.

I'm such an evil barbarian.


  • I've always wanted to call you an "evil barbarian" but you beat me to it.

    By Anonymous GOF, at 9:26 PM  

  • I resent that! Moody is NOT an evil barbarian! He's a neutral good with chaotic tendencies barbarian!

    By Anonymous Stewart, at 11:10 PM  

  • Its sometimes entertaining to not let on too quickly that you understand the local language. As a soldier in Germany, my friends would always drag me along so that I could translate what the girls were saying about them at the table. The real laugh was when the girls finally noticed that I was translating.

    By Blogger Vulgarius, at 1:40 AM  

  • I don't speak any foreign languages, but I can count to ten in spanish, and four in german. I try not to know too much because I might land a job where they might send me to foreign countries all the time. Wait a minute, that has all ready happened. Oh bother.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:32 AM  

  • Vulgarius,

    Du bist gemein. ;-)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 3:16 PM  

  • Doch!

    By Blogger Vulgarius, at 11:52 PM  

  • Ja, das ist hans.
    Plus ca change, hoy es lunes.

    That looks very pretty. It looks like we will need to cart our family back over to Japan to check it out.

    Thanks for the PIX!!!!

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 2:13 PM  

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