If you and your family are looking for a famous sightseeing place with beautiful scenery, then look no further than Iwakuni, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. It’s an easy day trip from Hiroshima and has something to suit the whole family, from castles, to lucky white snakes and ice cream of every flavour imaginable.
Of course, the most famous attraction of the area is Kintaikyo, a picturesque bridge that spans the Nishiki River. Built in 1673 by the feudal lord of the region, Hiroyoshi Kikkawa, it was washed away soon after, but rebuilt again. For 276 years it survived unscathed until a typhoon in September 1950 destroyed it once again. Construction began in 1953 and the present bridge was restored between 2000-2003. At a length of 193.3m with a width of 5m and a height of 6.6m, it is an impressive sight.
The riverside is the perfect place for a picnic or bento lunch and the kids can entertain themselves by paddling in the water under the bridge. It’s especially great on a hot summer’s day.
The bridge is beautiful in all seasons, but particularly in spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom along the river. On April 29 there is also the annual Kintaikyo Matsuri or Kintaikyo Festival, which celebrates the return of the feudal lord from the capital of Edo. If you like traditional music and costumes, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Tickets for the bridge are available at the reasonable price of 300 yen for adults and 150 yen for elementary school students. If you are interested in visiting Iwakuni Castle, located on the top of the hill behind the bridge you can also purchase a set ticket for 1100 yen for adults and 520 yen for elementary students. This of course includes not only the bridge and the castle, but also the ropeway for accessing the castle. I would highly recommend buying the set ticket as the view from the castle is well worth it.
Before heading to the castle, however, make sure you stop by to see the white snakes, which are not only native to the region, but are considered to be very lucky.
On your return, treat yourself and the kids to an ice cream. With over 100 flavours you’re sure to find something you want… or don’t want. Natto or curry flavour anyone?
Iwakuni can be accessed via the JR Sanyo Line. From Hiroshima Station it takes approximately 50 minutes and will cost 760 yen. You will then need to take a bus to the bridge, which is located about 15-20 minutes away and costs 300 yen. The bus is located right outside the station and there are plenty of signs in English to help you find your way.
For more information about the bridge, head to the Iwankuni City Homepage at http://kintaikyo.iwakuni-city.net/en/
Photo by Jade Brischke