Translated by Greg
A Close Look At The Bandai Bridge, Niigata's Symbol
Written by Maki
Today we introduce the Bandai Bridge in Niigata prefecture's Niigata city. This bridge, which crosses the Shinano River, has become both a sightseeing spot and a symbol for the city with its distinctive and graceful arches.
Niigata prefecture's Niigata city is the largest city on the Sea of Japan coast. It's a city blessed with an abundance of nature and surrounded by sea, river and mountains, and even today remnants of its past when it flourished as a port city, still remain. Today we're going to take a close look at one of Niigata city's icons, the Bandai Bridge, a landmark that's popular with both local residents and visitors alike.
What Kind of Structure Is the Bandai Bridge?
Crossing over the Shinano River which winds its way through the heart of Niigata city, the Bandai Bridge is considered to be an important transportation hub for those coming and going along this waterway.
Extending the full 306.9m length of the bridge, the six arches continuing one after the other are graceful and lend an air of symmetry to the structure. Both the construction techniques and the design have been recognized by the government and it's been designated a nationally important cultural property.
A walking trail was built along the river bank, and in the spring the cherry blossoms and tulips in full bloom are bright and colorful, creating an unforgettable scenery. There are several cafes dotting the side of the river, so why not take a short breather as you gaze out at the Bandai Bridge?
History of the Shinano River and the Bandai Bridge
The current Bandai Bridge is the third incarnation, and was erected in 1929. Built using reinforced concrete, the sides are decorated with granite giving the structure a grand and dignified appearance.
The original version of the bridge was built in 1886. However, a large fire burnt down most of the bridge resulting in the building of the second incarnation in 1909. The third incarnation was a shorter version of the previous two bridges, due to various projects that caused the narrowing of the river's width.
Today there's a monument standing at the site of the original bridge.
Near the bridge there's an underground passage called Bandai Crossing. Pillars that were excavated from the original bridge are now on display here, showing that the original structure was made of wood.
An Observation Deck Commands a View of the Bridge
At the foot of the Bandai Bridge is a tall building called Media Ship, and from its observation deck directly overhead, you can get a close-up view of the bridge.
The observation deck is free of charge and from it's wide open space you get a panoramic view of Niigata city. Adjoining the observation area is a cafeteria and we recommend taking a short break here during your Niigata sightseeing trip.
From Media Ship you can see the Bandai bridge crossing the calm waters of the Shinano River directly down below, and if you look a bit beyond the bridge the Sea of Japan comes into view. When the weather cooperates, you can see as far as Sado Island, which sits on the Sea of Japan. Also, since you're facing west, make sure not to miss the stunning view of the evening sun as it slowly sinks into the sea.
When you look out from the observation deck on the opposite side, a sprawling commercial/residential area spreads out below your eyes, and off in the distance but still within view, is the Echigo Mountain Range. From late autumn until winter, you can see the mountains' beautiful snow-covered peaks.
So what did you think of Niigata city's symbol? The Bandai Bridge serves as an important link joining Niigata city's urban areas, and it's not going too far to say that if you're traveling in the city you'll most likely be crossing over this bridge. But it's a bit of a waste to just simply cross over it, so by all means take the time to stop and appreciate its impressive view!