The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter 8. Garden Bridges

Zigzag Bridges Yatsuhashi

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Wooden Bridges are of various designs, from those made of single planks to elaborate constructions resembling the engineering bridges of the country. An old form of Wooden Bridge, used chiefly to cross the swampy iris-beds, consists of wide planks arranged one by one in a zigzag manner, supported by short wooden piles or stakes driven into the mud. This is called the "Yatsuhashi Bridge," to which allusion has already been made on page 11. The intention of its winding shape is to allow one to loiter above the beds of water-plants. The Japanese conception of a Garden Bridge is not, by any means, that of a quick and direct passage across a watery space; the love of picturesqueness,�as well as a fondness for lingering above an expanse of water, to enjoy the cool breezes and watch the gold fish disporting in the stream,�has led to a preference for crooked and tortuous constructions. Even in the simplest stone-slab Bridges, one span will often be carried to an intermediate rock planted in the stream, and the next be made to branch off from this point in an entirely different direction. Some highly finished and roof-covered Wooden Bridges are built so as to take several right-angle turns in crossing a lake, each bend forming a nook or recess for loitering in. It is a favourite device to train trellises of wistaria creepers over such constructions, which, in the early summer, form a rich flowering canopy. Such an arrangement may be seen in the garden of the Hama Rikiu, in Tokio. Other Wooden Bridges are constructed with planks laid cross-wise, and supported upon arched beams with an intermediate trestle-like support fixed in the bed of the stream. In long structures of this sort, when owing to the nature of the river bottom no intermediate support is feasible, the curved bearers are strengthened by an arrangement of wooden bracketing, built out from the two opposite banks. The name of "Bracket Bridges" (Rankan-bashi) is given to those made in this style.