Enkobashi Bridge to be restored to original state: City to include project among those marking 70th anniversary of A-bombing

Local residents hope bridge will be new attraction

by Aya Kano, Staff Writer

The City of Hiroshima plans to restore Enkobashi Bridge near Hiroshima Station to its original state to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing in 2015. Prior to the war, the bridge, which was built in 1926, featured grand bronze eagles. A group of residents who launched the effort to restore the bridge six years ago hopes the bridge will become a new attraction at the gateway to Hiroshima.

At the time the bridge was built, there were bronze eagles atop its pillars, and openwork with monkeys grasping peaches adorned the railings. Because of its splendor, the bridge was known as “Hiroshima’s finest.”

During the war, the bridge’s adornments were turned in to the government in compliance with a program to collect metal for use in the manufacture of weapons. The stone bridge was exposed to the flash of the A-bomb but escaped major damage.

In February 1996, local residents began to dream of restoring the bridge. Keizo Hanawa, 80, and Mitsuo Masumoto, 72, who live nearby, were inspired to take action after coming across a watercolor painting of the original bridge. Others joined their effort, and in 2008 nine people formed an association dedicated to the restoration of the bridge. Apart from the restoration, with the cooperation of Hiroshima City University, the group is creating a monument showing what the bridge’s pillars originally looked like.

The City of Hiroshima took note of the enthusiasm of local residents and included the project among those that will mark the 70th anniversary of the A-bombing. In its initial budget for fiscal year 2014, which was announced on February 6, the city allocated 20 million yen for design costs. Work on the bridge is targeted for completion in 2015. The city’s Roads and Transportation Bureau said that it hopes to work with local residents to come up with ideas to make use of the bridge in developing the local area.

The vicinity of the bridge will change greatly once redevelopment projects on the south side of Hiroshima Station are completed in 2016. Keiichi Ohashi, 66, president of the group working to restore the bridge, said, “The bridge has witnessed Hiroshima’s history, from the pre-war years through the atomic bombing and the city’s rebuilding. I would like many people to take an interest in the bridge and come see it.”

(Originally published on February 7, 2014)