The Wooden Arched Kintai Bridge – A Symbol of History and Tradition

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One of the “Three Famous Bridges of Japan”, Kintai Bridge is the pride of Iwakuni. With a length of 210 metres and width of 5 metres, the magnificent bridge stretches over Nishiki River, the longest river in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The five-span structure with three central arches is a testimony of sophisticated bridge architecture and construction used in the past.

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Commissioned by the third feudal lord of Iwakuni, Kikkawa Hiroyoshi, Kintai Bridge was built in 1673. Initially, it was used by feudal lords and their vassals. Commoners were only allowed to use the Bridge from 1868 onwards.

Currently, maintenance of the bridge is undertaken by skilled masters who employ techniques unchanged since the Edo period.

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After crossing Kintai Bridge, visitors can relax in the spacious Kikko Park, which is the former site of Kikkawa residences, or explore the nearby Iwakuni Art Museum and its impressive collection of samurai artifacts. Just in front of the museum, visitors can be acquainted with the native white snake and pray for good fortune.

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Adventurous visitors can take the cable car to Iwakuni Castle. Perched on Mount Shiroyama, the castle offers breathtaking views that change with the seasons.

Seasonal changes enhance the allure of Kintai Bridge as motifs of Nature complement its artistry. At the end of Spring on April 29 annually, the Kintai Bridge Festival is celebrated with parades on the bridge. In summer, Kintai Bridge forms a dramatic backdrop for the popular fireworks show and traditional cormorant fishing practices.

Kintai Bridge is a symbol of history and traditions embraced by the people of Iwakuni who strive to preserve the architectural masterpiece for future generations.

This article was published in ANA Experience Japan website 2016-2018. 

Wendy Ngjapan