Take our user survey here!
Photo By: PIXTA/ nobo_23p
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Matsue Ohashi Bridge

Travel to the bridge’s southern side and see remnants of two local legends

By Laura Payne

The northern and southern parts of Matsue, the capital of Shimane Prefecture are divided by the Ohashi River. Multiple bridges span these waters, but the Ohashi Bridge carries the most history.

First built in 1608, and reconstructed several times since then, it is an essential piece of infrastructure and a good place to enjoy views of Lake Shinji. The most famous things about this bridge, however, are its local legends.

Travel to the Ohashi Bridge’s southern side, and you’ll see two remnants of the tales this structure has to tell.

The Sacrifice of Gensuke

Photo by: Laura Payne Forever memorialized

In a small park on the southern side of the bridge, there is a memorial for a man named Gensuke. According to local lore, he was a hitobashira (human sacrifice made to protect structures) that enabled the bridge’s stability.

When the Ohashi Bridge was first built, it is said that floods and the soft riverbed often caused damage. Choosing a hitobashira seemed to be the only way to calm the river’s force, so it was decided that the first man to cross the bridge wearing a particular style of hakama (traditional-style trousers) would be sacrificed. Gensuke was the first, and he was buried alive under the bridge’s central pillar. Supposedly, this strengthened the Ohashi Bridge for three hundred years.

In addition to the memorial, Gensuke’s story is remembered through a local custom. It’s rumored that the reason why Gensuke was the first to cross the bridge was because he left for work in a hurry. His wife offered him a second cup of tea before he went out, but he refused it. Now, some Matsue locals drink two cups of tea at a time because this act could have saved Gensuke. For example, when entertaining guests, hosts may offer two servings of tea for this reason.

The Musical Stone

Photo by: Laura Payne Did anyone say, musical stones?

Next to Gensuke’s memorial, there is a rectangular boulder, known as the musical stone of Oba. According to legend, this boulder is of a special variety of stone that makes beautiful sounds when struck. However, it is said these stones cannot be carried far from where they originated.

Supposedly, a daimyo of Matsue Castle once tried to have this boulder brought to him, but on the southern side of Ohashi Bridge, it became so heavy that not even 1,000 men could move it. Thus, the boulder was abandoned and remains in place to this day.

Things To Know

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings are considered some of the best times to visit the Ohashi Bridge because it is possible to see fishermen harvesting clams on Lake Shinji.

It is possible to go underneath the Ohashi Bridge by joining the Lake Shinji Pleasure Cruise. Details of this tour can be found online. If you join this tour, watch your head because some of the bridges on the Ohashi River are low.

How To Get There

Address

By train

Matsue Ohashi Bridge is about a 15-20-minute walk from Matsue station. Alternatively, take the Lakeline Bus from Matsue station and get off at Ohashi Bridge South.

More information about the Lakeline Bus can be found on Matsue’s official travel website.

Where To Stay

Hotel Route-Inn Matsue
  • 2-22 Higashihommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0842 Japan
  • ¥9,500 - ¥10,500
  • 4.3/5 (1,206 reviews)
  • 0.1 km
Onyado Nono Matsue
  • 2-35 Higashihommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0842 Japan
  • ¥17,448 - ¥40,372
  • 4.63/5 (558 reviews)
  • 0.2 km
Matsueshinjiko Onsen Matsue New Urban Hotel
  • 40-1 Nishichamachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0845 Japan
  • ¥7,500 - ¥11,000
  • 4.16/5 (3,558 reviews)
  • 0.5 km
Dormy Inn Express Matsue
  • 498-1 Asahimachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0003 Japan
  • ¥12,100 - ¥33,000
  • 4.39/5 (1,427 reviews)
  • 0.6 km
Green Rich Hotel Matsue Ekimae Futamata Yunohana
  • 493-1 Asahimachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0003 Japan
  • ¥8,210 - ¥10,850
  • 3.48/5 (3,538 reviews)
  • 0.6 km

Topics: , ,