Kochi: Twin Fairies Strive to Eliminate Stigma of Harimaya Bridge

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Twin fairy characters, Harima and Yabashi, stand near the Harimaya Bridge in Kochi.

KOCHI — The Harimaya Bridge in Kochi is known as one of Japan’s three most disappointing sightseeing spots, which are well-known spots but are disappointing to visitors who actually go to see it. To eliminate this stigma, “twin fairies” have launched an initiative.

The two characters, named “Harima” and “Yabashi,” first appeared on Jan. 2 last year. They showed up out of anger, saying that they no longer want visitors to call the bridge disappointing. Initially, many people thought Harima and Yabashi were creepy and largely ignored them, but their popularity has grown through social media and other means.

The twin fairies occasionally appear at the bridge to amuse fans, while participating in events at various locations.

The people in the costumes are Hitoshi Shimoo, 55, who runs a local cafe, and Yuya Okanoue, a 35-year-old care worker. The duo, who made the costumes themselves, expressed their desire to bring smiles to people’s faces from this small bridge by turning it into an interesting spot.

The Harimaya Bridge was originally a private wooden bridge set up during the Edo period (1603-1867). After undergoing numerous changes, the current vermilion-lacquered wooden bridge was built in 1998 in conjunction with the development of a nearby park.

The bridge became famous after it was mentioned in a popular song but is now considered one of the three most disappointing sightseeing spots in Japan, along with the Sapporo Clock Tower and Dutch Slope in Nagasaki.