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Kikkawa Tsunenobu became the head of his clan after the deaths of his warrior father and older brother in 1586-1587 and changed his name to Hiroie. Seeking to avoid the decimation of the Mōri clan he served, he secretly negotiated with Tokugawa Ieyasu's army promising Mōri neutrality during the battle in exchange for guarantees of the existing Mōri domains. Mōri Terumoto was the nominal commander-in-chief of the Toyotomi's western army, but he remained in the Osaka castle, and his forces joined the rest of the western forces under the command of Mōri Hidemoto. When the Mōri army deployed on the Tokugawa flank, Hiroie, in command of the vanguards, disobeyed Hidemoto's assault order and, instead, blocked his army's attack routes, leading to Tokugawa's victory at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. However, Tokugawa distrusted Terumoto's actual role in the battle and sought to confiscate all Mōri domains and to give two provinces to Hiroie as a reward, despite Hiroie's objections; as a compromise Tokugawa reduced the Mōri domains to just two provinces and forced Terumoto to retire; nonetheless, even though the Mōri lost more than 3/4 of the lands, Terumoto rewarded Hiroie with part of his much reduced domain despite Hudemot's opposition. (The Kikkawa did not become independent daimyho and continued to be senior retainers of the Mōri clan.) After Hiroie completed Iwakuni castle on top of Mt. Yokoyama in 1608, a series of wooden bridges were built across the Nishiki river, most of which were destroyed by floods. The third lord, Kikkawa Hiroyoshi, constructed the modern Kintai-kyo in 1673. The bridge had 5 sequential arch bridges on four stone piers and two wooden piers on the dry riverbed where the bridge begins and ends. Each of the three middle spans was 35.1 m long, while the two end spans were each 34.8 m. Due to its shape and weight, the bridge was extremely strong at the top but weak from underneath, making it vulnerable to flood waters, so it was designed so the wooden 5-m-wide pathway "floats" on top of its frame using precisely fitted mortise and tenon joints. This allowed rising flood waters to lift the wooden pathway out and carry it downstream while sparing the main structure. In addition, its thick girders were clamped and bound together with metal belts, so no metal nails were employed. For additional durability, the main wooden parts were covered by copper sheets. Though the new bridge was destroyed by flooding the next year, the stone piers were redesigned for greater strength, and a special tax was created to maintain the bridge by periodically rebuilding it: every 20 years for the 3 middle spans and every 40 years for the 2 terminal ones. For the next 276 years the bridge remained intact. During World War II the Japanese halted maintenance, and afterwards the US Marine Corps weakened its support by extracting vast quantities of gravel to expand their air station runway in Iwakuni. A flood from typhoon "Kijia" washed the bridge away in 1950, and it was reconstructed in 1953 with metal nails made from the same tamahagane steel used to forge katana, the curved, single-edged Japanese swords with a long grip to accommodate two hands.
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