Not far from Hiroshima Station is Enkobashi, one of the bridges (presumably, the original bridge, given the name) across the Enkogawa River. In fact, the area in front of the station is known as Enkobashi-cho, one of the historical areas of the city centered around the bridge.

The name ‘enko’ has fascinated me ever since I first came to Hiroshima, nearly 25 years ago now, partly because looking at the two kanji (Japanese characters) used to write the name, one of them is the character for ‘monkey’. But, for one reason or another, I’d never got around to actually checking what the name as a whole meant. Not until I took the photo in this post, that is.

When I did finally get around to looking things up, I found that an ‘enko’ is a ‘kappa’ (a traditional Japanese creature of legend) said to be common in the Hiroshima area. So Enko-gawa is the river with the kappas, and Enkobashi is the bridge across the river. Simple.

Actually, the bridge is one of those surviving after the atomic bombing. The original decorations along the bridge (monkey-like creatures- presumably the kappas- in a pose reminiscent of some sort of physical exercise) were removed during the Second World War, but the bridge was restored in 2016.

Anyway, near the bridge (and near the railway station), at the side of the river, is a notice board. And along the top part of this notice board are these decorations, a silhouette of the actual bridge, complete with people crossing it. I’d wager that less than one per-cent of people who pass the spot notice the decorations; yet there they are, in all their delightful detail.

June 26th, 2022.


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