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Usui 3rd Bridge 碓氷第三橋梁(めがね橋)

Megane-bashi Megane-bashi
Megane-bashi Megane-bashi

A bridge to a bygone era, now a nature trail

Built in 1892, the Usui 3rd Bridge functioned as a railway passage through the Usui Pass between Yokokawa in Gunma and Karuizawa in Nagano until services stopped in 1963.

The nickname of this bridge is Meganebashi because the arches resemble spectacles (megane in Japanese).

Quick Facts

In 1993, it was designated a National Important Cultural Asset

It is the largest arched brick bridge in Japan

How to Get There

With limited public transport, the easiest way to visit the Usui 3rd Bridge is by car.

Follow the Nakasendo Highway toward Karuizawa, and you'll see it just after Lake Usui . You can also take the Shinetsu Line from Takasaki to Yokokawa Station. From there it takes about one hour and 30 minutes on foot.

East meets West engineering

Your first impression may be that the bridge looks almost European in design, especially with the use of red bricks. In fact, it was built under the guidance of British engineer Charles Assheton Whately Pownall, becoming one of the first collaborations with non-Japanese engineers in the early Meiji era.

Nature hike over a former railway

In 2001, a six-kilometer nature trail was built along the disused railway lines and given the name Apt Road. Follow this path and you will understand what a feat it was to create such a pass, and appreciate the beautiful scenery that surrounds it.

* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.

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