Usui 3rd Bridge

A Bridge to a Bygone Era, Now a Nature Trail


The Usui 3rd Bridge, also known as Meganebashi due to its resemblance to spectacles, is a historical landmark in japan. Built in 1892, this bridge served as a railway passage through the Usui Pass between Yokokawa in Gunma and Karuizawa in Nagano until its services were discontinued in 1963. It holds significant cultural and architectural value, being designated as a National Important Cultural Asset in 1993. Today, the bridge has been transformed into a nature trail, attracting visitors from all over the world who are keen to explore its rich history and enjoy the surrounding natural beauty.

Historical Significance

The Usui 3rd Bridge is a testament to the engineering marvels of the past. It was constructed under the guidance of British engineer Charles Assheton Whately Pownall, marking one of the earliest collaborations between Japanese and non-Japanese engineers during the Meiji era. The bridge’s design, with its arches and red brick construction, showcases a fusion of Eastern and Western architectural influences. Its historical significance lies in its role as a crucial transportation route during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, connecting Gunma and Nagano prefectures.

Architecture and Design

The Usui 3rd Bridge stands as the largest arched brick bridge in Japan. Its European-inspired design sets it apart from other bridges in the country. The use of red bricks gives it a distinct appearance and adds to its charm. The bridge’s arches, resembling spectacles, have become its defining feature and the reason behind its nickname, Meganebashi. The intricate craftsmanship and attention to detail exhibited in its construction reflect the engineering prowess of the time.

Nature Trail Transformation

In 2001, the disused railway lines that once ran across the Usui 3rd Bridge were repurposed to create a six-kilometer nature trail known as Apt Road. This trail offers visitors the opportunity to embark on a scenic hike and experience the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Walking along the trail, one can appreciate the immense effort it took to construct the railway line and the bridge itself. The trail’s transformation has breathed new life into the area, attracting nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and tourists alike.

How to Get There

While public transportation options to reach the Usui 3rd Bridge are limited, there are still ways to visit this remarkable landmark. The easiest way is by car, following the Nakasendo Highway towards Karuizawa. The bridge is located just after Lake Usui, making it easily accessible by road. Alternatively, one can take the Shinetsu Line from Takasaki to Yokokawa Station and then continue on foot for approximately one hour and 30 minutes.

Recommended Nearby Attractions

For those planning a visit to the Usui 3rd Bridge, there are other attractions in the vicinity that are worth exploring. Kyu-Karuizawa, a popular destination known for its charming atmosphere and luxury resorts, offers a unique blend of nature and culture. Visitors can enjoy shopping at Karuizawa Ginza, known for its boutiques and local crafts. Another nearby attraction is the Usui Pass Railway Heritage Park, where visitors can learn more about the history of the railway and its significance in the region.


The Usui 3rd Bridge, with its rich history and stunning architecture, stands as a testament to Japan’s engineering prowess and cultural heritage. Its transformation into a nature trail has provided a unique opportunity for visitors to appreciate its beauty while immersing themselves in the surrounding natural landscape. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or simply enjoy exploring the outdoors, a visit to the Usui 3rd Bridge is sure to be a memorable experience. So, plan your trip, embark on the Apt Road, and discover the beauty of this bygone era bridge.

Address And Maps Location:

Matsuida-machi Sakamoto Chinai, Annaka-shi, Gunma-ken

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