Here’s Iwakuni, in Yamaguchi prefecture: due to its close position to Hiroshima prefecture we advice you to add it to your trip to Miyajima.
What’s special about Iwakuni?
In the past, Iwakuni was a castle city and its stronghold was among the best ones of those times: known also as Yokoyama-jō, it was completed in 1608 by the Ikkawa Clan. It was demolished shortly after, in 1615, according to the new Tokugawa edict which allowed the presence of only one stronghold per province. What we see today is a reconstruction laying on the original basis of the castle, on the top of Nishiki River’s bight.
Iwakuni’s most iconic symbol is the Kintaikyō Bridge, which used to lead to the castle main gate. This is one of the most famous three ancient bridges of Japan: its 5 arches form a 193 meters-long structure. The cherry trees weaving with the Kintaikyō Bridge create a beautiful view during the Spring time.
Getting to Iwakuni
Tōkyō and Iwakuni are a bit far from each other, so traveling by Shinkansen would be the best way.
First solution (about 5 hours)
From Tōkyō, reach Hiroshima station with “Nozomi” high-speed train, which runs on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen line. Here you switch on “Kodama” high-speed train and you get off at Shin-Iwakuni station. From there, with the bus bound to Iwakuni station you reach the Kintaikyō Bridge in about 12 minutes.
※ In case you’re traveling on conventional lines、from Sanyō main line and Gantoku line point to Iwakuni station, and you can get to the bridge with the city bus heading to Kintaikyō Bus Center.
Second solution (by car)
From Sanyō highway‘s Iwakuni IC road, reaching the Kintaikyō bridge is very easy.
We went to Iwakuni during the cherry blossom season. The combination of the bloomed flowers and the the Kintaikyō Bridge was just amazing. We strolled along the river till the first of its arches. Then, while walking on the bridge we felt like going back to the ancient times.
The cherry blossom’s festival was taking place right on that day: thus, the site was very crowded but it was possible to have a picnic on the wide river bank anyway. Among the stands, some were selling ice-creams. Actually the flavor’s choice is said to be the biggest in the whole Japan: cherry flower, mandarin orange and even ramen and pizza flavor! There seemed to be 201 different possible choices!
Near the bridge there are other places to see. In the exposition pavilion, which was very interesting, some white snakes were exposed. By taking the rope-way close to the Kintaikyō Bridge we reached Iwakuni’s castle, which overlooks the city: the fortress is now a historical museum. From up there we could behold the bridge and also some inland sea’s islands.