Innai in Usa, Oita, is famous for its stone bridges. The town has 75 stone bridges , including many arched bridges, more than any other locale in Japan. Several of these bridges, including Fujimi-bashi and Torii-bashi, were built by Shinnosuke Matsuda, a builder who was hailed as the king of stone bridges in the Meiji Period. They are a must-see not only for their imposing structures, but also for the sense of the passage of time they provide.
There are several reasons why Innai has so many stone bridges. One is the town's topography, with its deep valleys and fast-flowing rivers. The town's residents needed sturdy stone bridges that would not be washed away by the rivers' currents. The second reason is that the area had abundant resources of the stone needed to build these bridges that could be readily quarried. The third reason is that there were many stonemasons who possessed superior skills in building terraced rice fields and stone walls, the kinds of structures that were essential to life in the town. In particular, one master builder, Shinnosuke Matsuda, who has been dubbed the "king of stone bridges," studied the design of arched bridges in Kansai before returning to his hometown in 1897. There, he built 14 iconic stone bridges, including Torii-bashi, 11 of which still remain today. There are also a number of stone bridges built by Matsuda still standing in the nearby towns of Ajimu and Honyabakei.
As well as Torii-bashi, he also worked on Fujimi-bashi bridge, which is the subject of a moving story. After the bridge collapsed partway through construction, Matsuda poured all of his determination as a master stonemason, as well as his personal funds, into the completion of the bridge. We highly recommend taking a tour of the historic stone bridges of Innai, including Bunji-bashi Bridge, which is lit up at night, painting an other-worldly picture.
|Web Sites||(In Japanese) http://www.city.usa.oita.jp/site/kanko-history/79.html|
|Address||Koshita, Innaimachi, Usa-shi, Oita|
|Inquiries||TEL:0978-42-6040 (Innai Branch, Usa City Tourism Association)|