dobashi 土橋
KEY WORD : architecture / 1 castles, 2 gardens
1 Lit. earthen bridge. An earthen bridge, which is made by leaving an unexcavated section of moat in front of a castle entrance *koguchi 虎口. Unlike a suspension bridge that can be taken down, the dobashi is permanent, so there is no fear that the enemy will seal off the castle by destroying the bridge. The earthen bridge is considered appropriate for castles designed also with attack in mind you-no-shiro 陽の城, because it is suitable for launching an attack from inside the castle. Such earthen bridges could also act as dams, inhibiting the movement of boats around a castle. In the case of dry moats *karabori 空堀, earthen bridges served as embankments to hinder the movement of the enemy along the bottom of the moat. In mountain castles, the earthen bridges were low enough to enable passage within the moat, though they could still interrupt the free movement of attacking forces by their dips and rises.

2 A type of garden bridge comprised of 10 to 20cm of earth and gravel packed over a base of small logs laid across a wooden frame. Because of the weight of the earth, dobashi usually have only a slight arch, if any. In keeping with the natural appearance of the bridge, handrails are generally avoided and frequently bamboo shoots, grass or moss are allowed to grow in the dirt. Good examples are found at Daigoji Sanbouin 醍醐寺三宝院 and at Katsura Rikyuu 桂離宮 in Kyoto. If the earth is placed over bundles of branches, the dobashi is called shibahashi 柴橋 (brushwood bridge) or kusahashi 草橋 (grass bridge).


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