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If I've understood correctly, ちょうど followed by a counting word usually means something like "just x" or "exactly x" depending on the context, but I can't figure out what it means in this opening sentence of a novel:

バルサが鳥影橋をわたっていたとき、皇族の行列が、ちょうど一本上流の山影橋にさしかかっていたことが、バルサの運命をかえた。

I understand the overall meaning of the sentence, but the exact purpose of ちょうど一本 here eludes me. What does the 一本 count? Or is ちょうど一本 some sort of set phrase beyond counting cylindrical things?

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My translation, feel free to correct me: When Balsa crossed the 鳥影 bridge, the imperial family procession was exactly approaching 山影, the next bridge upstream, and Balsa's fate changed. –  Nicolas Raoul Jul 15 '11 at 7:14
    
Using "very" (as in "the very next bridge") puts a little more emphasis on the fact that it was only one bridge away, which feels like the purpose of ちょうど here. –  Derek Schaab Jul 15 '11 at 12:29
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Does ちょうど in this sentence really modify 一本? It looks to me that ちょうど just refers to the exact timing, not exactly one bridge. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 15 '11 at 16:59
    
Hmm, good point Tsuyoshi; I suppose it could be short for ちょうどその時に. –  Derek Schaab Jul 15 '11 at 20:25
    
@Tsuyoshi_Ito I think you are right. My answer followed that mistake, so I modified it. –  sawa Jul 15 '11 at 23:43

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Edited. (As Tsuyoshi Ito points out, it may be more natural to take ちょうど as modifying さしかかる rather than 一本.)

Perhaps, this river has several bridges crossing it, and when バルサ was crossing 鳥影橋, the royal parade had just reached 山影橋, which is one bridge (i.e., the next bridge) towards the upstream of the river (from 鳥影橋).

is used to count long things. It does not necessarily have to be cylindrical.

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Does a 橋 also have 上流 and 下流? –  syockit Jul 15 '11 at 15:04
    
@syockit Yes. A bridge can be located on the upstream or downstream of another. –  sawa Jul 15 '11 at 15:23

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