Popular Japanese aqueduct reopens after 6 years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tourists watch water being released from Tsujunkyo Bridge in Yamato, Kumamoto Prefecture on Saturday.

The Tsujunkyo Bridge in Yamato, Kumamoto Prefecture, reopened for the first time in six years on Saturday, after having suffered damage in the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake. The aqueduct’s famed water-release system was deployed on the day, as tourists watched on.

The bridge — an Important Cultural Property — was built in 1854 during the late Edo period (1603-1867) to supply agricultural water to the surrounding area. The release of water from the stone-arch bridge had been popular among locals and visitors, but was halted after the water pipe was damaged by the earthquake.

The Yamato Town Board of Education decided to resume the water-release function after the pipe was restored in 2020, but had prohibited people from crossing, as the structure has no parapets. For the reopening, security guards were drafted in to ensure people could cross the bridge safely.

A 52-year-old office worker in Kumamoto City, said: “The power of the water can really be appreciated when seen from the bridge. I couldn’t help but applaud.”

Visitors can pay to cross the aqueduct from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on days when water is released — about 100 days each year, on average.