Bird痴-Eye View

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 of year.

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 below you.

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.