Translated by Hilary Keyes
Iwakuni Castle, Yamaguchi - Superb Views From The Top
Written by Ai Yoneda
Iwakuni, Yamaguchi prefecture is perhaps best known for its Kintai Bridge, but if you'd like to see the sights while learning about Iwakuni's history, be sure to visit Iwakuni Castle.
Iwakuni city in Yamaguchi prefecture is perhaps best known for its Kintai Bridge. But around this amazing bridge are a great number of interesting sightseeing spots including Iwakuni Castle, a sight not to be missed by visitors to Yamaguchi.
Today, let's take a closer look at Iwakuni Castle and its many charms as it rises from its mountain peak.
Iwakuni Castle is a fortress located on the summit of Mount Yokoyama near Kintai Bridge. The base of the castle can be reached via a ropeway (cable car) which costs 550 yen round trip and takes roughly three minutes to reach the top.
If you have the time, or have the stamina, it's also possible to hike from Mount Yokoyama's neighbor, Mount Anekeyama (姉ガ山).
Once you exit the rope-way station, there is a mountain road that leads to Iwakuni castle; this takes five minutes to walk. Surrounded by trees, you're sure to want to take a few deep breaths of this liberating, clean mountain air.
Iwakuni Castle is a fourfold six storey castle built in the Momoyama Nanban-zukuri style. Nanban-zukuri, (also known as Kara-zukuri), refers to an architectural style where the upper floor is wider than the floor below it, where the roof of the upper floor is shortened. This unusual architectural style, as of March 2016, is only found at two castles in all of Japan - Iwakuni Castle and Fukuoka's Kokura Castle.
Iwakuni Castle was built in 1608 and served as the castle for the first feudal lord in Iwakuni, Kikkawa Hiroie. However, on the orders of the Bakufu (the Edo era's central government), it was demolished after about seven years. The current castle tower's exterior was restored in 1962. From the remains of the stone walls, moat and so on,it's possible to catch a glimpse of what the original castle was like. Therefore, for castle fans and history buffs, after visiting the restored castle tower, it's a good idea to take a closer look around the grounds of Iwakuni Castle.
In the castle tower exhibition space swords and armor are displayed. Being able to see the varying lengths of the swords and the different types of blades here is very fascinating.
Here are woodblock prints showing how the Kintai bridge and the Iwakuni area looked in the past. At this permanent exhibit you can really get a glimpse at what the region used to look like.
If you look in the direction of Nishikigawa River from the castle tower, you'll be blessed with a gorgeous view of Kintai bridge and its five impressive arches. Nishikigawa, with its meandering path can clearly be seen as well; the river was known as the Tennen no Sotobori (天然の外堀), a natural moat that was a formidable deterrent for any rivals seeking to attack the castle. On a clear day you can see Miyajima in Hiroshima prefecture and farther in the distance, some of the Shikoku region.
If you find yourself sightseeing in Yamaguchi, look up at the castle that towers over the mountains and take a trip up to see Iwakuni Castle.
Address: Yamaguchi, Iwakuni, Yokoyama 3-chome
Closed: Depends on ropeway
Credit Cards: -
Other Languages: -
Nearest Station: Kawanishi Station (川西駅), JR Gantoku line
Access: 25 minute walk from Kawanishi Station to Ropeway Sanroku Station (ロープウェー山麓駅)
Entrance Fee: 260 yen
Phone Number: 0827-29-5116
Website: Iwakuni Castle (English link connects to external translation site)