On the Izu Peninsula south of Tokyo you can hardly throw a stone without hitting an abandoned place – though I doubt that it was a simple rock that brought down this bright red loop bridge…
There are actually several stories / story elements why this iconic *haikyo* became a modern ruin:
– One part of the bridge collapsed during an earthquake in the 1970s and the bridge was then abandoned.
– Somebody planned a spa resort on top of the mountain, but the plans fell through and construction of the bridge stopped.
– Somebody planned dozens of holiday homes and company retreats on top of the mountain in the 1970s, finished building the bridge and opened it to the public, but then went bankrupt without constructing anything else – so the bridge fell into disrepair and the road leading up to the bridge was dismantled for security reasons.
– The bridge was built in the 1970s, but didn’t collapse until 1993.
– The bridge was built in the 1970s, collapsed in the 1980s, but city officials didn’t admit to that fact until 1993.
40 years later and without access to a local historian or some kind of city archive it’s pretty much impossible to say what happened here. You should think that building bridges is the responsibility of the State, but there are plenty of private roads and bridges in Japan, so having a private investor being responsible for this modern ruin is by all means a possibility. Given that there are no solid roads beyond the bridge, I doubt that it was ever finished and opened to the public; that’s supported by the surroundings, which looked like an unfinished construction site abandoned decades ago. On the other hand it is very likely that somebody wanted to build something on top of the mountain, given that there is another “colony” with dozens of holiday homes and company retreats in walking distance. The Izu Peninsula was indeed hit by three serious earthquakes in the 1970s (1974, 1976 & 1978), but there is no way to say that one of them caused the bridge to partly collapse – though I think it is likely that the bridge was finished in the 70s, then whoever was in charge went bankrupt / stopped caring about the construction, it fell into disrepair and finally came down in the 1980s or 90s. The current position looks very, very instable, too – the massive rocks the nosedived bridge element is resting on now shows huge cracks from the pressure and I wouldn’t be surprised if we will see more movement in the not so far future…
The Partly Collapsed Red Bridge is actually quite a famous abandoned place in Japan, first reports date back to 2004, when hardly anybody did urbex in Japan, and I was never really eager to see it – photographed to death, potentially instable, fences around, rather remote location… and just boring. An abandoned bridge with a collapsed element, come on, how interesting can that be?
EXTREMELY interesting, probably one of the coolest places ever! Yeah, there were large construction fences where the bridge was planned to connect with a regular street, but a few dozen meters down the road was a flat parking area to the right and partly overgrown steps lead up the hill directly to where the bridge begins now, past auxiliary structures to support the construction workers, now more looking like a dump. (And probably used as a dump by locals these days as getting rid of electronics and bigger furniture can be really expensive in Japan…) So I climbed these fading steps with little to no expectations, but then I left the shadow of the forest and stepped into the light, literally and figuratively – I know it sounds cheesy, but it was like a choir of angels started singing. Holy shit – there was a partly collapsed bridge right in front of me, its damaged element pointing almost vertically to the sky, and one step to the left the asphalted loop started! Before I went to see the bridge myself I had seen dozens, maybe hundreds of photos… of quite a rather simple and not very elaborate (failed) construction, yet none of those pictures came even close to capture what I felt like standing there, all of a sudden feeling very small and vulnerable. So cool, so damn cool!
Although I swore to myself that I would not get even close to where the final bridge element slipped off the huge pillar, all of a sudden I realized how my feet were walking towards the metal fence once put in the middle of the road to keep nosy people with bad sense of balance from killing themselves accidentally or on purpose. The lower part of the wire netting had been long gone, so it was easy to get past this now rather symbolic obstacle. In the main corner of the uphill loop I took a photo (now the wallpaper of my computer) and all I could think of was: “This would be an awesome Mario Kart 9 track!” The bridge was actually quite wide, perfect for sliding karts, especially in a video game environment as the crash barrier wasn’t very high and the width of the road varied. I’ve seen my share of amazing yet weird bridges in Japan (including one coming out of a mountain tunnel and looping back in a few meters lower, all of that several hundred meters above the ground!), but this one didn’t look like it fulfilled any modern safety standards!
The very top of the bridge was every little bit as vertigo-inducing as you would it expect it to be – what an awesome sight! Sadly not for me, so I took a few quick shots and filmed some video material on my way back to the “barricade”. From there I headed over to the element that had fallen off at least 20 years prior to my visit, not without a bad feeling in my stomach – the massive piece of dented metal, plastic and asphalt was resting on massive rocks with huge cracks in them, and despite weighing tons, the setup looked very fragile. A few more shots and a quick video from underneath the slipped off part and back to safety I went… still not really believing how cool this location was, especially on a sunny spring day!
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