Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Yamaguchi
Population
1,528,107

Kintaikyo Bridge

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

The southwestern Chugoku region is a peaceful depiction of traditional Japan that travelers rarely find in the big cities. Among its scenery is Yamaguchi Prefecture’s famous Kintaikyo Bridge, the main landmark of the area.

The bridge is located in Iwakuni, a prominent city down the coast from Hiroshima Prefecture. Tourists come from all over for the fascinating history, striking scenery and even the signature ice cream nearby, yet, you won’t feel overwhelmed by big crowds.

The historic Kintaikyo Bridge in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi prefecture.

The historic Kintaikyo Bridge in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi.

Kintaikyo’s look and short history

The arched wooden bridge’s iconic look is perhaps most famed as a picture-perfect spot in spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. But the surrounding scenery of Kintaikyo Bridge is beautiful in all seasons, as you catch a glimpse of how the locals live in this lesser populated part of Japan.

Originally built in 1673, the bridge was designed in a unique style of having five steep arches. These arches were made to represent western Honshu (Japan’s main island), as well as make it difficult for invading armies to cross the Nishigawa River. The bridge was unfortunately destroyed by a particularly harsh typhoon in 1950. It was rebuilt three years later using the same techniques and parts of the original bridge that were salvaged.

Things to see in spring and summer

Kintaikyo Bridge sees cherry blossom trees line both sides of the river in spring. The view is studded with pink petals stretching out before you, and at peak blossom typically in March-April, food stalls and entertainment pop up, too. It’s a real party.

The second must-visit time is the Kintaikyo Iwakuni Fireworks Festival. Hosting the second biggest fireworks in the prefecture, the festival happens on the first Saturday in August every year. The display goes on for an hour and a half, and you can get all of the classic summer festival food that you could want.

Stop at these rival ice cream shops

Photo by: Alfie Blincowe Try all 100 flavors.

Once you cross the bridge, check out the ice cream shops that both claim to be the “original” and serve 100 different flavors. That makes choosing quite difficult!

This friendly rivalry has gone so far that they’ve nicknamed the shops after two rival samurai: Sasaki Kojiro and Miyamoto Musashi. These two feudal folk heroes’ entangled story is a mysterious one — even historians are not actually sure who won in the end. Either way, you can enjoy the Japanese obsession of funny flavors and try out ones like wasabi, sweet potato, tomato and more.

This area might not be the first place on your bucket list for Japan, but it offers a host of gorgeous sights, and of course, all the ice cream you can stand.

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How To Get There

Address

Kintai Bridge, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture 741-0062, Japan

By train

Take the JR Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hiroshima (3.5 hours) then transfer to another JR Shinkansen that will take you to Iwakuni (15 minutes). Next transfer to a local train to Kawanishi for one stop (3 minutes). From there, the bridge is a short walk.

By bus

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

By car

About an 11-hour drive from Tokyo station.

Where To Stay

Iwakuni Kokusai Kanko Hotel
  • Iwakuni 1-1-7 Iwakuni-Shi, Yamaguchi 741-0062
  • 8.3/10
  • 0.2 km
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Hotel Trend Iwakuni
  • Marifu-cho 4-14-21 Iwakuni-Shi, Yamaguchi 740-0018
  • 7.7/10
  • 4.0 km
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City Hotel Ando
  • Marifumachi 2-3-8 Iwakuni-Shi, Yamaguchi 740-0018
  • 7.2/10
  • 4.2 km
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Green Rich Hotel Iwakuni Ekimae
  • Marifumachi 2-5-21 Iwakuni-Shi, Yamaguchi 740-0018
  • 7.9/10
  • 4.2 km
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