One of the most iconic bridges in Japan that's surroundings cater to your sweet tooth.
The 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 Kintai-kyo Bridge, the main landmark of the area. Tourists come yearly for the fascinating history, striking scenery and signature ice cream nearby.
The bridge itself is located in Iwakuni, a prominent city down the coast from Hiroshima Prefecture. You won’t feel overwhelmed by big crowds, even though it’s a heavily advertised tourist spot. The arched wooden bridge is located in a luscious valley with surrounding quaint Japanese houses and local businesses.
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, as well as make it difficult for invading armies to cross the river. The bridge was unfortunately destroyed by a particularly harsh typhoon in 1950. It was rebuilt three years later using the same techniques and any of the original bridge that could be salvaged.
Rival ice cream shops
Once you cross the bridge, check out two ice cream shops, but be careful which one you choose. The ice cream shops both have 100 different flavors to choose from and both claim to be the “original” shop.
They have taken this friendly rivalry so far that they have named themselves after two rival samurai: Sasaki Kojirō and Miyamoto Musashi. These two feudal folk heroes are so shrouded in myth that historians know that they fought, but are not sure which one actually won.
Test out tons of exotic flavours like wasabi, sweet potato, tomato and many more.
In spring and summer
The bridge has two peak seasons. Every year the locals, and tourists from all over the world, come in spring to see the cherry blossoms at Kintai-kyo bridge.
Sakura (cherry blossom) trees line both sides of the Nishigawa River, so that the view is studded with pink petals stretching out before you. At this time, food stalls and entertainment also entice visitors.
The second must-visit time is the Kintai-kyo Iwakuni Firework 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.
It might not be the first place on your bucket list for Japan, but this area offers a host of gorgeous sights, and of course, all the ice cream you can stand.