Japanese Covered Bridge
Japanese Covered Bridge (Cầu Chùa or Cầu Nhật Bản or Lai Viễn Kiều)
This beautiful little bridge is emblematic of Hoi An. A bridge was first constructed here in the 17th century by the Japanese community to link it with the Chinese quarters. Over the centuries the ornamentation has remained relatively faithful to the original Japanese design. The French flattened out the roadway for cars, but the original arched shape was restored in 1986. The bridge is due for a complete removal for repair, so check it’s open before you travel, if making a special trip.
The structure is very solidly constructed because of the threat of earthquakes. The entrances to the bridge are guarded by weathered statues: a pair of monkeys on one side, a pair of dogs on the other. According to one story, many of Japan’s emperors were born in the years of the dog and monkey. Another tale says that construction of the bridge started in the year of the monkey and was finished in the year of the dog. The stelae, listing all Vietnamese and Chinese contributors to a subsequent restoration of the bridge, are written in “Chữ Nho” (Chinese characters) – the Nôm script had not yet become popular.