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Kinugawa Tateiwa Otsuribashi Bridge

A Stunning Suspension Bridge Over the Kinugawa River

The first thing one will notice getting off the train in the onsen town of Kinugawa is not the expected hot springs but rather the stunning mountain range that nestles the town in its bosom. Beautiful tonal greens and browns roll across the peaks, and stone cliff faces jut and stick out into the crisp clear air. Tthrough it all runs the Kinugawa River (translates as ‘angry ogre’), a mighty and beautifully speckled torrent apparently much calmer than it was in the days it earned its name. One great, and free, way to see all this beauty in one fell swoop is a visit to the Kinugawa Osturibashi suspension bridge.

Located on the edge of town toward Tobu, the Kinugawa Tateiwa Osturibashi extends itself 150 meters boldly over the rushing Kinugawa River far below. Otsuribashi is a suspension bridge supported by wires attached both to the traditional suspenders as well as to the cliff face over which the bridge extends. The effect is a dramatic one, and even a stiff breeze rocks the bridge gently from side to side in its bed of tension—an experience that might trouble the faint of heart but is perfectly pleasant to the adrenaline junky.

The Angry Ogre rushes and raves some 40 meters below, and gorgeous cliff faces and mountain slopes are visible in every direction. Once on the other side of the river, on top of the Tateiwa boulder (so called because it's shape resembles that of a medieval shield), visitors are greeted by a statue of the eponymous angry ogre, as well as a booth where they can print a commemorative stamp to celebrate their surviving the perilous crossing. 

There is a extensive trail spreading in both directions atop the Tateiwa boulder, but unfortunately the staircase leading to the trail mouth was closed upon my visit. That said I gathered from the signpost on the near side of the bridge that the trail contained such enticing attractions as a tunnel, two viewpoints, another statue of an ogre (happy this time) and a waterfall. It seems whatever direction you walk in this country you're bound to see something stunning, and the Kinugawa Tateiwa Otsuribashi is no exception. Seeing it's free, fun, and beautiful there's no reason not to make it your first stop while staying at the exceptionally hospitable Kinugawa Park Hotel or any of the other hot springs in the small mountain town.

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