HASHI-ITA bridges were used daily by people who lived by the lake until a piped water supply system was set up. Every day, they carried buckets to collect water for the washing, drinking, cleaning, laundry and for their bath tubs.
People had a rule never to wash dirty things in the lake and to throw away the used grey water in their backyards, so the lake water always remained pure.
A HASHI-ITA bridge is a fun place for children to play (they can run along and jump into the water) and is also a good safe spot for baby fish to hide under.
After a water system was set up in the 1950’s, the local government ordered that the HASHI-ITA bridges should no longer be used and they were removed from the lakeside.
In the intervening years, most people have forgotten about them. However, the cultural importance of Lake Biwa has recently been acknowledged, once again defining Lake Biwa as a ‘Water Heritage of Life and Prayer.’
HASHI-ITA bridges are valuable environment study areas where one can learn about the life around the lake as well as offering an important access to emergency water during disasters.
Our hope is to hand over the HASHI-ITA bridge culture to future generations and this is why we are presently attempting to once again bring these bridges back to life.