The River Has a History of Flooding
The megaflood from 1953
destroyed all the bridges, except
for the Asanogawa Ohashi.
Kanazawa is well known for being a wet city. Its annual rainfall amount is about 2,400 millimeter in total, and the annual number of rainy days is around 195. So it is no wonder that when cloudbursts hit this area, it caused flooding in 1952, 1953, and once again in 2008. The megaflood of 1953 destroyed all the bridges, except for the Asanogawa Ohashi. People had hoped that their local government would build a dam to impound water to suppress floods, yet the river has unfortunately no place fit for such construction. Thus, they instead constructed a watercourse in 1974. In case the river rises, the watercourse works to release water from the Asanogawa to the Saigawa River. So are people able to go to bed without worrying about an impending day of torrential rain? Unfortunately not, as another serious flood hit the waterfront again in 2008. It had been 55 years since the last one. From the upper reaches of the river to the middle, a temporary evacuation advisory was issued. Eminent tourist areas such as Yuwaku-onsen spa village, along with the Higashi Chayagai district suffered flood damage.
Living Connected with The River
Washing out dyestuff for finishing
Kaga-yuzen kimonos and catching fish
for local cuisine are unique activities!
Our lives have been closely connected to this river since olden times. People catch fish that can be used in Kanazawa cuisine. Although not as common a sight these days, Kaga-yuzen artisans used to wash out masking glue from fabric with the Asanogawa’s icy waters in winter in order to finish their kimono craft. Amazing geisha entertainment has also been performed on the open stage at the river’s edge. Now the most pleasant event for everyone has got to be the lantern floating at night during the annual festival Hyakumangoku Matsuri.
The Asanogawa-ohashi was first constructed in 1594 on the orders of the first lord Toshiie Maeda, at the main road, which used to be called Hokkoku-kaido. The existing bridge was built in 1923, and its design is still loved by the Kanazawa people.
Did you know that two literary masters of Japan, Kyoka Izumi (1873-1939) and Shusei Tokuda (1871-1943), were born and grew up near the river? Both studied at Baba-shogakko elementary school in Higashiyama. No wonder this river is often written about in their novels. It’s obvious that the scenery of the waterfront they experienced as children was unforgettable.
The Seven-Bridge Superstition
Complete crossing the seven bridges
in silence at midnight
on the Equinox!
In the middle of the night on either the spring or autumn equinox, make a wish by crossing the Tokiwabashi Bridge (❾) and finish it at the Shoeibashi (❷)! Do not look back during your walk, and remember to remain completely silent. Keep walking in a single stroke from the Tokiwabashi to the Shoeibashi (❾>❽>❼>❻>❺>❹>❸>❷)! This is the so-called “Nanatsu Bashi Meguri” route. Importantly, participants have to carry a Buddhist rosary, and furthermore, they have to wear special white undergarments. Put your hands together in prayer both before crossing each bridge, and after! It’s said that some female residents who lived around the Asanogawa River first began this activity during the Meiji period (1868-1912). Crossing the seven bridges is said to grant your wishes...so what kinds of wishes does it works for? Well, those ladies made a wish to live long and healthy lives. It seems they were seriously afraid of becoming bedridden, old women when they got older. In the present day however, it is obvious people still care about the same issues. As a result, they perform the seven-bridge crossing during the daytime as a nice walk for their health.
Events Around The River
Asanogawa Koi-nagashi: May 3
(Floating Carp Flags in the Asanogawa River)
Carp flags float in the Asanogawa River
to celebrate the growth of children, especially boys.
• Place: Asanogawa River between Asanogawa-ohashi (❻)
and Umenohashi (❼) bridges
• Time: 10:00-16:00
Kaga Yuzen Tohro-Nagashi”: Jun 2
(Floating Lanterns for the Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Matsuri Festival)
Don’t miss the 1,500 lanterns with lovely Kaga-Yuzen patterns!
Share an atmosphere of fantasy with the locals!
• Place: Asanogawa River between Tenjinbashi (❽)
and Umenohashi (❺) bridges
• Time: 19:00-21:00
Utasu-jinja Setsubunsai: Feb 3
(Annual Spring Festival at Utasu-jinja Shrine)
This annual spring festival is located
at Utasu-jinja Shrine in February.
Setsubun is the day before the season officially starts.
• Place: Utasu-Jinja Shrine (1-30-8, Higashiyama)
• Time: 13:00-14:45