course the people are now completely Vietnamese and most speak only that language. However, they maintain their own worship styles that are not Buddhist and they still keep their ethnicity alive with their social and cultural meetings and arts. In an interesting sidelight, our local Chinese-Vietnamese guide told us that two Chinese premiers have visited Hoi An to address these people and their Chinese speech had to be translated for the crowds because most of the people have lost the ability to speak Chinese, either Mandarin or Cantonese. The Chinese settlers generally became rich in Hoi An because of the river which leads to the sea; it made them successful traders and importers. The Japanese came later, in the 17 th century, because they saw the vast opportunities for traders and merchants. They too became wealthy but they assimilated more completely with the Vietnamese culture and though you can see some Japanese influence in the arts and crafts of the city, they did not build to recreate their Japanese world in Vietnam as did the Chinese. Now the buildings so carefully maintained here are most often homes of successful Chinese families and the only structure clearly identified as Japanese is the Japanese Bridge which spans an arm of the river running right through the heart of the old city. The bridge is picturesque and clearly Japanese in style, arched in the middle like the bridges in Japanese gardens in Japan and reproductions in the USA.
T HE J APANESE B RIDGE The restored and preserved houses we visited were built between 500 and 225 years ago and most show the effects of the annual flooding. One fine old structure we toured had been 53
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