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Sanjo Bridge Gets a Refurbishment!

Sanjo Bridge, originally constructed in 1594 on the instruction of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the then defacto ruling warlord of Japan, has been the site of plenty of bloodshed in Kyoto. Most recently was when the famous battle at the nearby Ikeda-ya between the Kyoto militant police group, the Shinsengumi, and Ronin from the hans of Tosa, Higa, and Choshu, on a summer night in 1864 spilled out on to the streets around and eventually on to the bridge. A sword blade cut can be seen on one of the metal finials on the bridge to this day as a lasting memory of the events of an incident that has been said resulted in putting back the return of power to the Emperor by the Tokugawa Shogunate by at least one year.

Click on the link to find out more about the Ikeda-ya Incident in a previous HIDDEN PATHS - Walking Historical Kyoto blog post on this site.

The current bridge was built in 1954, but the metal finials atop the wooden posts along the sides of the bridge were the originals from the 16th Century. Of course, wood open to the elements, and years, does not last forever. And so this year, 2023, the wooden posts of Sanjo Bridge have been replaced. The original finials are still though on the bridge. And some of the stone pillars on the underside are also originals (some original stone work is now used in the gardens of Heian Jingu). But it is no easy task to replace the wooden posts. The wooden is carved from tree trunks growing on Kuramayama, north of Kyoto City. The wood, after being cut, had to brought from the mountain by helicopter! If you visit the bridge at the moment (May 2023) you can view photographs of the project.

Pictured below, an original finial atop one of the new wooden posts. Clearly visible on the finial is a sword blade cut mark from the Ikeda-ya Incident of June 5th, 1864.

The refurbishments have been ongoing for a while now, but as the project looks to be nearing an end, the bridge, with its new wooden posts and fencing looks impressive!

Access, nearest station to Sanjo Bridge is Keihan Sanjo Station.

Pictured below, looking south over the Kamogawa from Sanjo Bridge.

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