In late fall I visited
my hometown in Oita Prefecture. Unlike the abnormal situation in Tokyo,
where, probably as a result of global warming, the roadside trees are
still green, there was an atmosphere and appearance of late fall there,
and the autumn foliage created a stunning tapestry. I was deeply moved
by the spectacle. Come to think of it, my visits back home have usually
been at the height of summer. Perhaps it was the spirit of my childhood
days chasing fish in limpid streams that prompted me to choose that time
One of the reasons for visiting my hometown this time was to experience
the Kokonoe “dream” suspension bridge for pedestrians. The
scale of the bridge is awesome: a total length of 390 meters, a height
of 173 meters, total construction costs of \2 billion, and a capacity
to withstand the weight of 1,800 adults. In particular, my interest was
piqued by the sheer height of the bridge. It is as if a suspension bridge
has been erected right over the cluster of skyscrapers in Shinjuku. Just
imagine looking down and seeing the tops of those high-rise buildings
Anyway, the bridge really does have height and length. And at a glance,
I understood why that height and length are so fantastic. The amazing
and beautiful sight of the gorge spreading into the distance below appears
just like a huge Japanese-style painting.
On the right-hand side of the mosaic gorge the 83-meter-high Shindo Waterfall
looks exactly like the Kegon Falls in Nikko. On the left-hand side the
Medaki Waterfall drops gently from a height of 94 meters like a stretched
cloth. The clear water from these two falls flows out of their basins,
and about where they meet there is an old stack of green pine trees. The
contrast of the greenery, the autumn colors, and the waterfalls is superb.
The water then turns into a white waterfall that flows down for three
kilometers into the bottom of the Kyusuikei ravine, which is famous for
its autumn foliage.
From the suspension bridge it is possible to see the spectacular autumn
tints of Kyusuikei far away. The bridge, you see, crosses a huge pot-shaped
gorge lying at the edge of Kyusuikei.
Thanks to modern bridge technology, it has become possible for human beings
to get a bird’s-eye view of wonderful and secluded scenery that
previously only birds could see. This scenery, it can be said, is the
true value of the Kokonoe “dream” suspension bridge. I couldn’t
help feeling that I would like to be a bird in every season.