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WISTERIA BRIDGE OVER THE FUJI RIVER in OLD JAPAN | by Okinawa Soba (Rob)
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WISTERIA BRIDGE OVER THE FUJI RIVER in OLD JAPAN

BEFORE READING THE BELOW CAPTION, PLEASE TAKE FOUR MINUTES OF YOUR LIFE TO WATCH THIS VIDEO SHOT IN INDIA. IT WILL GIVE YOU AN UNDERSTANDING AND PERSPECTIVE WHAT THE JAPANESE WERE ATTEMPTING HERE :

 

www.liveleak.com/view?i=c93_1320276196

 

The actual name of this bridge in Japanese is the KAMAGUCHI-BASHI [Kamaguchi Bridge]. I've always loved the photos of this bridge over the Fujigawa [Fuji River], and wished that odd rope (or cable) was not in the picture. This 1880s shot was taken by KIMBEI KUSAKABE.

 

Here's another view attributed to K. OGAWA : oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/target.php?id=302

 

Prior to it's up-grade to a steel cable-stayed crossing in 1897, it was also photographed by T. ENAMI and others for inclusion in their albums of photographs sold to tourists.

 

WHAT HOLDS THE BRIDGE TOGETHER ?

 

As demonstrated at the video link given at the beginning of this caption, bridge you see is made of TWO ANCIENT AND THICK WISTERIA VINES -- grown into huge lengths on either side of the river, then woven together and through each other. The vines form the net across which the narrow central planking has been laid, and on which the people are walking.

 

THEN AND NOW : The only Japanese historical source I could find relates that the bridge in the picture was so wobbly, that when the uninitiated started to cross, and the bridge started bouncing and swinging, the people would freeze in fear !

 

It was replaced by a wire cable suspension bridge along the above lines in 1897. This supposed bit of "progress" was shorter lived than the natural living bridge that, if properly cared for and replenished with new vines, could have lasted decades (or centuries) longer.

 

In 1918 --- after sitting there for a little over 20 years (and rusting away?) --- a regiment of Imperial Soldiers of the 60th Infantry decided to cross it one day. The wire cables snapped in the middle, plunging the men into the river below. Seven soldiers drowned.

 

WHAT DOES THIS SPOT LOOK LIKE TODAY ?

 

The above scene is now long gone. TODAY, the river is crossed at this spot by a HUGE PIPE --- a water conduit used by the local Electric Power Plant. Pipe diameter is 5.5m supported by a silver truss bridge 53.3m long. ENJOY THE VIEW ! :

 

kawasuji-tokaido.com/fuji/4345.html

  

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WISTERIA (Named for a University of Pennsylvania Professor) is pretty cool stuff :

 

"......Wisteria is a genus of about ten species of woody climbing vines native to the eastern United States and the East Asian states of China, Korea, and Japan.

 

Wisteria vines climb by twining their stems either clockwise or counter-clockwise round any available support. They can climb as high as 20 m above ground and spread out 10 m laterally [10 m ??? They never saw this bridge, I suppose]. The world's largest known Wisteria vine is located in Sierra Madre, California, measuring more than an acre in size and weighing 250 TONS (!)

 

OLD WISTERIA can grow into immensely STRONG and heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems......"

 

etc etc...... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisteria

 

LIKE OLD WISTERIA PICTURES ? www.flickr.com/search/?w=24443965@N08&q =Wisteria&am...

 

Ok. Enough about wisteria and that fantastic bridge !

 

釜口橋 釜口峡 富士川 富士宮

 

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NEXT....THE RIVER !

 

"..........The Fuji River (富士川, Fujikawa, or Fujigawa) flows from Yamanashi Prefecture to Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan. It is 128 km long and has a drainage area of 3990 km². With the Mogami River and the Kuma River, it is regarded as one of the three most rapid flows of Japan

 

Water transportation prospered until the opening of the Fuji Minobu Railway (now the JR Central Minobu Line) in 1923........."

 

And that brings us to the CLIMAX of this otherwise mundane caption. Of all the inscrutable countries of the world, inscrutable JAPAN has decided to --- ELECTRICALLY SPEAKING --- cut itself right in half using this river as it's marker.

 

".........The river divides Japan by electric line frequency, --- 50 hertz supplies NORTHERN JAPAN (which they call the EAST part), and 60 hertz supplies SOUTHERN JAPAN (which they call the WEST part)........."

 

If you remember ANYTHING about Japan from my photostream, please remember THAT.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuji_River

 

Okinawa_Soba got VERY TIRED of getting 50hz timers sent to me in 60hz OKINAWA that were manufactured in 50hz TOKYO....after making it clear that they had to be 60hz....NOT 50hz !!!

 

It is only due to my extremely civilized nature that I do not turn this caption into a RANT about the totally crazy stuff that had to be dealt with on a daily basis during my life in Japan. Honestly, it was almost as bad as living in the USA......and nearly as maddening as the caption typos you have to put up with on my photostream !!!

 

Enjoy the Wisteria pics ~ !

  

 

日下部 金兵衛 (1841 - 1934)

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Uploaded on September 30, 2008