Damage to West Peace Bridge railing, designed by Isamu Noguchi and repaired in 2019, might have been caused by early morning car crash

by Hajime Niiyama and Mari Sakamoto, Staff Writers

On December 19, it was learned that a portion of the railing of the West Peace Bridge, located in Hiroshima’s Nishi Ward, had been damaged. The bridge railing was designed by the sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988). According to the Hiroshima Chuo Police Station, an accident in which a car struck the railing occurred in the early morning hours of December 19. The Hiroshima City government, which is responsible for managing the bridge, will investigate the cause of the damage and any possible link to the accident.

The damage occurred to the concrete railing located on the upstream side of the bridge. In one location, the railing was bent, exposing the internal reinforcing bars and, nearby, another section of the bridge showed signs of being scraped. Black skid marks were visible on the lower part of the railing and on the pedestrian walkway.

According to the Hiroshima Chuo Police Station and other sources, at around 1:15 in the morning hours on the 19th, a passenger car driven by a man in his teens overturned on the bridge, leaving two of the three people in the car slightly injured. It is believed that the vehicle struck the railing either before or after flipping over on the road.

Completed in 1952, the West Peace Bridge traversing the Honkawa River measures approximately 100 meters in length. The two balustrade-like cylindrical structure of the bridge was designed by Isamu Noguchi, who also designed the Peace Bridge, which spans the Motoyasu River to the east. Hiroshima City conducted repair work on surfaces and deteriorating sections of the railing in 2019, restoring the materials to the smooth texture of the concrete surface present when the bridge was originally constructed.

“How sad it is that such an important railing was damaged. We will investigate the cause and consider how to deal with the matter, including possible repairs and improvements,” said a staff member at the Naka Ward’s maintenance division.

(Originally published on December 20, 2021)