Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Chugoku Sanyo, San-in 中国地方山陽、山陰 - Iwakuni Castle 岩国城

Visited 23.04.2015 (Thu)
Number of castles visited to date: 7
Top 100 castles in Japan: #74

Most scenic. Out of the four castles visited during this trip (Okayama Castle, Himeji Castle, Iwakuni Castle and Hiroshima Castle), the view of the surroundings seen from the tenshukaku of Iwakuni Castle is the best. Surrounded by dense vegetation on Mt. Shiroyama, a breathtaking and panoramic scenery encompassing Kintaikyo, the architecturally sophiscated five arched wooden bridge, and the meandering Nishiki River flowing into Seto Inland Sea can be fully captured from the highest floor of the tenshukaku on a clear day. Stood here for quite some time, admiring the beautiful landscape right in front of my eyes while enjoying the light cooling breeze blowing towards my face intermittently. In my opinion, the observatory here is one of the best viewing spots to get an excellent overview of the iconic Kintaikyo.

The iconic landmark of Iwakuni city can be seen clearly from afar.

Background / Highlights:

- Castle was began construction in 1603 and was completed in 1608 by Hiroie Kikkawa 吉川広家, the first feudal lord of Iwakuni Domain. However, it was shortly dismantled due to "ikkoku ichijo 一国一城" order, which translates to one castle per province, established by the reign Tokugawa Shogunate in 1615, only seven years after it was established.

How far can you see? All the way to Seto Inland Sea (in the background)! 

- After WWII, there was a growing public interest to rebuilt the castle keep / tenshukaku. This led to reconstruction, not too long ago in 1962, more than 350 years later after it was demolished. The current location of tenshukaku is about 30 m away from its original one; where the stone piled base of the former tenshukaku can still be seen here.

- Standing at four storey tall externally (but made up of five storey internally), it was built in the architectural style of Momoyama period reflecting European influences. The tenshukaku is also a museum where detailed models of Kintaikyo and armours used in the olden days are put on display here.


Iwakuni Castle 岩国城
741-0081 山口県岩国市横山3丁目
Operating hours: 0900 - 1645 hrs (last entry at 1630 hrs)
Entrance fee = 260 yen
* Kintaikyo, Ropeway and Iwakuni Castle set ticket  錦帯橋、ロープウェイ、岩国城セット券 = 940 yen

How to get there?

(1) By Iwakuni Castle Ropeway 岩国城ロープウエー
The most direct approach to reach Iwakuni Castle is via ropeway which operates from the foot of the hill. Alternatively, visitors can choose to ascend the hill by foot via a 2 km trekking path from Momiji dani Koen 紅葉谷公園. At the mountain top station, there is a tall mechanical clock named Shiroyama Karakuri Clock in which ornaments depicting cormorant fishing come into life and a chime is sounded when time reaches 15, 35 and 55 minutes in a hour. It takes another 5 minutes to walk from the terminus station to the final destination.
Round trip = 550 yen; Single trip = 320 yen

Ascending Mt Shiroyama.

Inside the ropeway carriage.

Shiroyama Karakuri Clock, a mechanical clock located at the mountain top ropeway station.

Stairs leading to Iwakuni Castle.

Commemorative stamp:

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