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The western extremity of Tran Phu is marked by a small arched bridge of red-painted wood, popularly known as the Japanese Bridge, which has been adopted as Hoi An’s emblem. It was known to exist in the mid-sixteenth century, and has subsequently been reconstructed several times to the same simple design. According to local folklore, the bridge was erected after Japan suffered a series of violent earthquakes which geomancers attributed to a restless monster lying with its head in India, tail in Japan and heart in Hoi An. The only remedy was to build a bridge whose stone piles would drive a metaphorical sword through the beast’s heart and fortuitously provide a handy passage across the muddy creek. Inside the bridge’s narrow span are a collection of stealer and four statues, two dogs and two monkeys, which suggest that work began in the year of the monkey and ended in that of the dog. The small temple suspended above the water is a later addition dedicated to the Taoist god Tran Vo Bac De, a favorites of sailors as he controls wind, rain and other “evil influences”

 

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