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Shinkyo Bridge - Nikko, Japan

The Shinkyo bridge was built in 1636, though previous bridges existed on the same span prior to that. It provided a critical link across the river to sacred mountain shrines, and was not open to the public for much of its life. Now it is mostly picturesque, as there is a modern road bridge which creates that connection now.

Now the bridge connects past and present, tradition and modernity. It links the people of the area, and those who come to visit, to the beliefs and practices of their ancestors. It fords the chasm between the hurried bustle of the 21st century and the serene lives of those who crossed it for many centuries.

Indeed, every shrine, relic, temple, plaque, historic building, traditional food, superstition, or symbol of any kind is a bridge to the past. When we ask "why" and "how" we cross the bridge, and gain more perspective by looking at ourselves from the context of the past.

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