Nagasaki: Megane Bridge 眼鏡橋
View of the port of Nagasaki from Glover Garden
Memories of the old Nagasaki
The Megane Bridge in Nagasaki (meganebashi) is one of the few traces remaining of the ancient city. It is the oldest stone arch bridge in Japan, and has been designated an Important Cultural Property.
The Spectacles Bridge
In itself, it's not big deal: a stone bridge with two arches on the Nakashima river, in the heart of Nagasaki, beautifully surrounded by docks and trees. It almost resembles a bridge in a European city.
But we are in Japan, and this stone bridge was probably the first produced in the archipelago, around the year 1634 by a Chinese monk named Mokusu. It owes its name, megane (meaning glasses), to its arches in a perfect arc, reflected on the water, which form two circles reminiscent of thick glasses.
Built shortly before the edict of Japan's national isolation (sakoku), it reflects the influences which could be found in the cosmopolitan Nagasaki, main port of trade open to the world. Built by the Chinese, according to very European structures, on a Japanese river.
Other vestiges of this kind still exist in the city, such as the former artificial island of Dejima, the temple dedicated to Confucius, the Dutch Slope or Glover Garden.