What makes Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture worth the detour from Hiroshima and Miyajima? Read this travel guide to find out more about this off-the-beaten-path destination in western Japan!
The Kintai Bridge
The Kintai Bridge is one of the most imposing bridges in Japan, and it is located near Miyajima and Hiroshima.
It spans the banks of the Nishiki River in a series of five wooden arches and it looks out at the foot of Mount Yokoyama. On this mountain, you can see the Iwakuni Castle on its summit. This bridge was originally a connection to the main gate of Iwakuni Castle.
The bridge and castle were declared a national treasure in 1922 and are popular tourist destinations for mainly domestic tourists. The bridge even has its own festival, Kintai-kyo Matsuri which is held on April 29th each year. Because floods destroyed most of the wooden bridges of the time, this landmark bridge was built. It was designed to withstand flooding, but unfortunately, it was still destroyed a year after it was built.
In the reconstruction of the bridge, the stone pillars were improved so that the bridge had better resistance, and at the same time, a new tax was implemented for the maintenance of the bridge. Because of this, the bridge did not suffer greater damages in the floods that followed. Every 20 years the three middle sections are maintained, and every 40 years the sections that connect the bridge to the shore are renewed.
The bridge got destroyed once more by two typhoons after the war because Japan concentrated on rebuilding the nearby airbase instead, but in 1953 it was renovated again. The bridge is a great example of Japan’s perseverance, if something gets destroyed, you build it up again and make it stronger.
The castle was originally built in the early 17th century, but it was dismantled a few years later. This happened because the Tokugawa shogunate didn’t want one province to have more than one castle. Having more than 1 castle would make the province too dangerous for the reign of the shogunate.
The remaining part of the castle was used by the area’s lord as a residential office, and much later a replica of the castle tower was rebuild here, which you can still see today. Together with the bridge, it makes for an excellent spot to take beautiful pictures.
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