Photo By: Daniel Tam
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Yamaguchi
Population
1,528,107

Iwakuni Castle

Yamaguchi's historical masterpiece protected by an unlikely hero.

At the western tip of Japan’s main island, Honshu, lies the Chugoku region, a collection of classical and more rural prefectures. This less-commonly visited location has a lot to offer, including historical sites dating back hundreds of years.

What hidden gem is nearby?

One of these sightseeing spots worth traveling for is Iwakuni Castle, located far from Tokyo in Yamaguchi Prefecture. You can either hike up to the castle or take the ropeway from the base of the mountain (200-meter-high Shiroyama). Once at the top you have a splendid view of Iwakuni, you can see the entire city stretching out into the tranquil inland sea of Japan. Inside the castle you will find three floors of historical artifacts from Iwakuni’s past, swords, samurai armor and art work.

The history

Originally constructed in 1601 by the Daimyo (fuedal lord) Kikkawa Hiroie, the castle was supposed to cement his power across the region. For years, the daimyo used his castle to rule over Iwakuni, instructing his subjects to construct elaborate grounds around the mountain it sits atop.

Once the ruling Shogunate found out about the castle’s construction they ordered its destruction fearing it would take power away from Hiroshima castle. The castle was partially deconstructed and became the Daimyo’s private residence until the 1960’s when it was refurbished and turned into a museum. The grounds later became Kikko park, and are now open to the public. The park is wonderful, filled with statues, water features and gorgeous pathways that lead to a sombre yet beautiful cemetery.

White snakes

Photo by: Redlegsfan21 Take the ropeway up the mountain to get to the castle.

There are two museums next to the ropeway station in the old castle grounds. One, The Iwakuni Art Museum, focuses on showing Iwakuni-based artists and how the area has developed through history.

The other museum focuses on the fabled white snakes of the area. It is said that white snakes would come into locals’ houses, eat all of the rats and pests then give good luck to the occupants. These snakes are an albino form of the common Japanese rat-snake, and for some reason, albinos are very common in the area. Inside the museum there is a display case full of white snakes, as well as various interactive displays and games that tell the history of the area.

Love Japan’s castles? Go see more!

Topics: , , ,

Trivia

Kintaikyo Bridge

One of the most iconic bridges in Japan that's surroundings cater to your sweet tooth.

More

How To Get There

Address

Japan, Yamaguchi-ken, Iwakuni-shi, 岩国城

By train

Take the JR Shinkansen from Tokyo station to Hiroshima (3.5 hours) then transfer to another JR Shinkansen that will take you to Iwakuni (15 minutes) from here you can hike up the mountain.

If you would rather take the ropeway then transfer to a local train to Kawanishi for one stop (3 minutes). From there, the castle ground are a short 15 minute walk.

 

By bus

Take an overnight bus from Tokyo to Hiroshima, then change buses at Hiroshima central bus terminal to Kintai-kyo bus terminal. Or, you can take a bus straight from JR Iwakuni station.

By car

About an 20-minute drive from Iwakuni JR station.

Where To Stay

Iwakuni Kokusai Kanko Hotel
  • Iwakuni 1-1-7 Iwakuni-Shi, Yamaguchi 741-0062
  • 8.3/10
  • 1.0 km
Powered by Booking.com
Hotel Trend Iwakuni
  • Marifu-cho 4-14-21 Iwakuni-Shi, Yamaguchi 740-0018
  • 7.7/10
  • 4.3 km
Powered by Booking.com
City Hotel Ando
  • Marifumachi 2-3-8 Iwakuni-Shi, Yamaguchi 740-0018
  • 7.2/10
  • 4.6 km
Powered by Booking.com
Green Rich Hotel Iwakuni Ekimae
  • Marifumachi 2-5-21 Iwakuni-Shi, Yamaguchi 740-0018
  • 7.9/10
  • 4.6 km
Powered by Booking.com