Updated: Mar 18
It was not until applying for my current job that I considered visiting Iwakuni. Its location is about an hour away from Hiroshima, but smaller and more rural. At first glance, it is a quiet and peaceful place bordering the Nishiki River. Upon arrival, I learned about the Iwakuni Castle and The Kintaikyo Bridge:
What to expect
The city of Iwakuni has an Airport called Kintaikyo Airport which is about 6.1km away from the Kintai Bridge. That's about a 15-minute drive. If you cross the bridge, the Castle is about a 15-minute walk and a 10-minute ropeway ride away. The proximity of the locations makes Iwakuni a wonderful day trip destination.
#1: Kintai Bridge and Surrounding Area
#2: Iwakuni Castle
#3: Bonus location..kinda far but worth the drive
Kintai Bridge and Surrounding Area
The Kintai Bridge is a pitcureque loacation. Framed by mountains and the Nishiki River the bridge has a design that seems both a seamless addition to the landscape and a masterful architectural creation. Its origanal creation dates back to 1673 (but it has been reconstructed multiple times since). The Bridge's design is unique because of its aches and intricate wooden structure.
Iwakuni Locals will tell you that the Bridge is a great place to enjoy the cherry blossoms in late March and April ( Something I am looking forward). So far, I can speak for the fall leaves and I can tell you they are pretty epic by the bridge. It gets cold at night, and in the early morning, in the fall season so I would recommend a midday stroll. There are several hotels and restaurants near the Bridge so if you want to centralize your visit to one location that is not a problem.
Crossing the Bridge will cost you about 310 yen but I would recommend bringing extra cash. At least 750 yen to spend at Shokujidokoro Musashi because where else are you going to try wasabi flavored ice cream? I would also highly recommend the ropeway (which costs arround 560 yen), it has a great view, overlooking the river.
You can either hike to the Castle or take the ropeway. We took the second option; then followed paths leading to the Castle. Along the path there is a historic well and a forest that feels like heaven for a nature lovers.
The Castle it's self has a rich and complex story. Guests can read about it's past and importance to Japanese history inside the castle museum (please be careful, to follow posted instructions). You can see weapons, architectural plans, learn that the entire Castle had been moved, and more. If you still have enough yen, you can pay to look through a magnifying scope for a few minutes. Or you can make a souvenir coin with a custom engraved message. My favorite part of our visit was the top of the Castle, where you can look out at the city of Iwakuni. I love this view because what you see depends on the season and weather durring your visit.
Bonus location...kinda far but worth the drive.
So this place is an hour and ten minutes away according to google maps. Actually it took us longer due to road closures in route so maybe about an hour and thirty minutes. If that has not deterred you, I strongly recommend a trip to Jakuchikyogoryuno (Seven Falls). If you love hiking and nature you will definitely love this place. Keep in mind the location is very rural so bring water, snacks, a full tank of gas, tell some one where you will be ect. But it is defiantly worth the trip.