The Arch Bridge Postcard
Is it not true that a bridge, no matter what its name, is a bridge? The Arch Bridge is also known as the Drum Bridge and as the Moon Bridge. Here is its story. The beauty and peace of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park has lent many a visitor respite. Pathways wind and meander, designed to encourage an unhurried stroll through the garden’s wonders. Among these is the Drum Bridge. The Japanese Tea Gardens were built for the 1894 International Exhibition (Midwinter Fair). The government of Japan commissioned master builder Shinshichi Nakatani to create a Taiko Bashi or Drum Bridge. The bridge received a Shinto blessing upon its completion and was shipped to San Francisco, accompanied by the builder. Shinshichi was forced to sell the family rice fields in order to finish the bridge and create the Bell Gate entry to the gardens. His son remained in San Francisco for almost 50 years, in order to earn enough money to repurchase the Nakatani family’s fields. A bronze plaque at the bridge expresses San Francisco’s gratitude and “recognizes the
dedication and expertise of
for his unique contribution to the City
and to the charm of the Japanese Tea Garden." The highly arched Drum Bridges (also called Moon Bridges) were originally designed to allow pedestrians to cross over canals while barges could easily glide underneath. Some are so steep that they actually require a pedestrian to climb up one side and down the other as if on a ladder. When used in a formal garden, a Drum Bridge is situated so that its reflection is seen in the water, creating a full circle with the bridge and in this way, recalling the full moon. In the Japanese Tea Garden, the Moon Bridge arches over tranquil waters, its steep design forcing visitors to slow down and take in the peaceful vistas.