Iwakuni’s Kintai Bridge: Preserving A Tradition In Yamaguchi, Japan

Iwakuni’s Kintai Bridge: Preserving A Tradition In Yamaguchi, Japan
Ty Cameron
Ty Cameron 
| 2 min read

For a great blend of tradition and architecture, come see Iwakuni’s national treasure in the Eastern Yamaguchi city. Sacrificing efficiency for the aesthetic, Kintai Bridge uses an old technique of wood binding to achieve an iconic architectural design. The bridge is made of five wooden arches first built in 1673. Three stone pillars secure the three arches in the center, while two wooden ones secure the two outer arches touching land. Spanning the Nishiki River, the bridge was built to serve the 17th century Iwakuni Domain. For tourists visiting the Hiroshima area, a trip to Iwakuni is sure to provide an amazing experience seeing distinctive Japanese construction.

Discover the bridge’s history

iwakuni’s kintai bridge: preserving a tradition in yamaguchi, japan | discover the bridge’s history

At the beginning of the Edo Period in the 17th Century, the Kikkawa clan ruled the Iwakuni Domain. They established a castle on top of Mt. Yokoyama, which strategically gave a great view of the small bay below. They constructed a number of wooden bridges that washed away in floods before trying the sturdier construction of the Kintai Bridge and stone pillars. Even though it was a stronger construction, the Kintai Bridge has been damaged several times throughout its 340-year history. Its wooden structure is also in constant need of renovation.

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Preserving the architectural tradition

iwakuni’s kintai bridge: preserving a tradition in yamaguchi, japan | preserving the architectural tradition

For the first 300 years of the bridge’s existence, it didn’t use nails. Instead, it carefully fitted wood beams together and bound them together. Because it is made of wood, the bridge is in need of renovations every 20 years. The added benefit of this constant need for renovation is that it preserves the tradition and skills used in the fitting together of wooden pieces in this iconic design. The constant renovations ensure the bridge remains sturdy, and the traditional method remains strong in present-day Japanese builders.

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Visit the castle

iwakuni’s kintai bridge: preserving a tradition in yamaguchi, japan | visit the castle

After crossing the bridge it is possible to take a cable car to the top of Mt. Yokoyama. The top not only affords an excellent view of the harbour and bridge, but visitors can see a replica of the old 17th Century castle that once stood there. It is permitted to walk around its several floors inside, and the top floor has a viewing station of the city down below. Outside next to the replica is the foundation of the original castle built in the early 1600s and an old clock with numbers written in Japanese ideograms on its face. Both the castle and bridge have great appeal for travelers who enjoy architecture, history, or both. Of all the world’s interesting bridge designs, Kintai Bridge remains exceptional for its arched walkway.

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Getting there

Iwakuni is a short train ride from Hiroshima and Miyajima Island. Buses travel from both Iwakuni Station and Shin-Iwakuni Station to Kintai-kyo bus stop. The trip takes 20 minutes and costs 290 JPY (2.50 USD). The most recent renovation was completed in 2004 at the cost of over 2 billion JPY (16 million USD). To help fund these costs visitors must pay a fee to cross the bridge. A combination ticket for the castle, cable car, and bridge can be purchased for 940 JPY (8 USD).

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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My name is Tyrel and I grew up in Canada. After high school, I took my first journey to Thailand and Australia. That year was the greatest time of my life and I have been traveling the world ever...Read more

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