Monday, April 14, 2014

Nagasaki: Meganebashi

Meganebashi, literally Spectacles Bridge, is a famous bridge in Nagasaki. 

The stone bridge was built in 1634 over the Nakashima River by a Chinese Zen priest, Mozi of the nearby Kofukuji temple. It is considered to be the oldest stone bridge in Japan. 
The bridge is called Megane bashi because its twin arches and their reflection in the river below create an image resembling a pair of spectacles. (Spectacles are called Megane in Japanese) 

Several bridges were constructed across the Nakashima River of which a few remain. 
Some of the remaining bridges in the vicinity.

The Megane bashi bridge was damaged in a flood in 1982 but it was restored to its original form.

The bridge is 22 meters long and 3.65 meters wide. A small promenade along the river makes it a pleasant place for a stroll. Some sculptures on the promenade

Access: Walking distance from Nigiwaibashi and Kokaido mae stations on Nagasaki Street Car route 4 and 5. 

Nagasaki : China Town

Nagasaki's China Town is one of the three Chinatowns in Japan. It is also the biggest and oldest Chinatowns in Japan. While Yokohama's Chinatown is called Chukagai and Kobe's Chinatown is Nankinmachi, Nagasaki's Chinatown is called Shinchi Chukagai.
Nagasaki's port had always been one the biggest trade centres in Japan right from the 15th century. After the Dutch and the Portuguese, Chinese traders too arrived in the city and they established a Chinatown for their community. From the 17th to 19th century, during Japan's long period of seclusion, Nagasaki was the only port which was open for trade with the outside world.  However the Dutch and Chinese were the only foreign traders allowed to remain but confined to the area allocated to them. While the Dutch were confined to Dejima, the Chinese were confined to Shinchi Chinatown. They were not allowed to venture outside the boundaries except at certain hours and to certain areas.  

The Chinatown was earlier a man made island which gave it the name "Shin-chi". Today,the area is part of the mainland.  

The Chinese influence on Nagasaki's cuisine and culture is a result of this long period of trade relations with the Chinese. 

Two of Nagasaki's famous noodle dishes the Champon and Sara Udon are a Chinese contribution to Nagasaki's cuisine. 

The best place to taste these dishes is undoubtedly at one of the several Chinese restaurants in Shinchi Chinatown.

Today, Shinchi Chinatown is Nagasaki's most famous Shopping and Entertainment District. 

Colorful gates mark the entrance to Chinatown in all directions.

 A pavilion in the centre is a place where locals and tourists relax. 
Some sights in the China town

Access: Walking distance from Nishi Hamanomachi station on the Nagasaki Street Car Routes              1 and 5 ; and Tsukimachi station on Route 1                

Nagasaki : Sofukuji Temple and Yasaka Shrine

Sofukuji is a Buddhist temple belonging to the Obaku Zen sect. It was constructed in 1629 for Nagasaki's Chinese residents. The Temple and its Gates have been constructed in Chinese style. 
Most of the Chinese living in Nagasaki in the 17th century came from Fujian province and the temple was constructed as the family temple for this community. 
Some of the buildings have been designated national treasures. 

Few more pictures from the temple :

A gigantic cooking pot stands on the temple grounds. 

This cooking pot was used to cook gruel to feed over 3000 people each day during the famine of 1682. 

Access: Short walk from the Shogakuji-shita stop on Nagasaki Street Car route 1.

Fees: 300 yen

Opening Hours: 8:00 hrs to 17:00 hrs 

Closing Days: No closing days 

The Yasaka Shrine is a Shinto Shrine close by. It is a small shrine but it offers a good view of the neighbourhood. We visited it on the way back from Sofukuji Temple.