15 Things To Do in Iwakuni

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Source: Jennifer Feuchter

This small castle town is far removed from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Iwakuni is a cultural center that is drenched in history and tradition that they display regularly through events such as Girl’s Day and festivals both religious and local. Check out one of the few places that you can observe Ukai fishing, a tradition fishing method that uses birds!

1. Choko-kan Museum

The Choko-kan Museum features scenes of everyday life during the Edo period. The true gems of the collection, however are the traditional Japanese scroll paintings detailing gorgeous renderings of ancient life.


  • Name: Choko-kan Museum
  • Address: Iwakuni-Shi,Yamaguchi, Japan
  • Price: Free!
  • Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 Closed on Mondays
  • Website: http://www.city.iwakuni.lg.jp/html/bunkazai/chokokan/ (need translation app)

2. Kikkawa Historical Museum


Source: Umako

At one point, the land that this museum we built on was a residence for a family of former samurai, who lived during the Edo period. The Kikkawa Historical Museum honors the family by displaying the huge amount of documents, swords and weapons that the Kikkawa family collected over the years.


  • Name: Kikkawa Historical Museum
  • Price: ¥500/ $5 USD
  • Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 Closed Wednesdays
  • Website: http://www.sky.icn-tv.ne.jp/~kikkawa7/ (need translation app)

3. Iwakuni Art Museum

The feudal lords that the Kikkawa family served during the Edo period, were the Iwakuni’s. The Iwakuni Art Museum holds their large collection of glassware, old samurai armor, fine ceramic pottery and all of the delicately carved furniture from the household of a Japanese feudal lord.


  • Name: Iwakuni Art Museum
  • Price: ¥800/ $8 USD
  • Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 Closed Thursdays
  • Website: http://iwakuni-art-museum.org/english/

4. White Snake Museum

Available to view at a museum, the white serpents have rare albino genetic quirk that makes these snakes local to Iwakuni. Believed to bring good luck, they have been carefully bred so as to keep their numbers up over the centuries when this tradition started.


  • Name: White Snake Museum
  • Address: Kikko Park, Iwakuni, Japan
  • Price: ¥200/ $2 USD
  • Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
  • Website: http://www.shirohebi.com/ (need translation app)

5. Kikko Shrine

The Kikkawa family constructed a family shrine in 1884. It is located on the level above their former living quarters. You can view the blossoming cherry trees every year from March to early April from the porch.


  • Name: Kikko Shrine
  • Address: 2 Chome-8-10 Yokoyama, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture 741-0081, Japan
  • Price: Free!
  • Hours: 7:00 – 17:00

6. Iwakuni Castle

Built in 1608, Iwakuni Castle was chosen for the sole reason that it was easily defensible. Located at the top of Mt. Shiroyama and half encircled by a natural moat, the natural defensive advantages were highly prioritized during the social unrest of the Edo period. Reconstructed in 1962, there are displays of some of the items related to the turbulent history of the castle. The castle has 4 stories and gives a gorgeous overview of Iwakuni which is located almost 200m below.


  • Name: Iwakuni Castle
  • Address: 〒741-0081 Yamaguchi Prefecture, Iwakuni, 横山3丁目 Japan
  • Price: ¥260/ $2 USD
  • Hours: 9:00 – 16:45

7. Kintai-kyo Bridge

One of the most famous landmarks in the area, Kintai-kyo Bridge has been around and admired for hundreds of years. Made entirely of wood with no nails, the distinctive wooden arches settle on absolutely massive stone pillars that are set in the Nishiki River. Constructed in 1673, it was knocked down in 1950 by a typhoon and then rebuilt just 3 years later.


  • Name: Kintai-kyo Bridge
  • Address: Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture 741-0062, Japan
  • Price: ¥300/ $3 USD
  • Hours: All hours

8. Eat some Iwakuni-zushi

One of the local dishes in Iwakuni is a form of sushi that is layered like a cake and then cut into individual squares. Known as Iwakuni-zush, this tasty treat can be found all over the city. Yum!


  • Name: Iwakuni-zushi Resteraunt
  • Address: Varies
  • Price: Varies

9. Watch the Kintai Bridge Festival

If you are in Iwakuni on April 29th, you have missed the cherry blossom, BUT the Kintai Bridge Festival takes place on April 29th during the week of Japanese holidays. There is a traditional procession that crosses the bridge and lots of festival set ups in the surrounding parks. If you are in the area this festival is a must see!


  • Name: Kintai Bridge Festival
  • Address: Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture 741-0062, Japan
  • Hours: 8:00 – 20:00

10. Check out the Ukai Fishing

iwakuni1Source: d’n’c

You can see this type of traditional fishing in only 13 cities in all of Japan, and Iwakuni just happens to be one of the them. Ukai or Cormorant Fishing is where fishermen have trained cormorant birds to dive off of their boats, catch a fish and bring it back to the fisherman. This amazing game of fetch can be see during the day and at night from the banks of the Nishiki River.


  • Name: Ukai
  • Address: Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture 741-0062, Japan
  • Price: Free!
  • Months: June, July and August
  • Website: http://www.ukai-iwakuni.com/ (use translate app)

11. Celebrate Girl’s Day with Hina Dolls

Every year on March 3rd Japan celebrates Girl’s Day. One of the traditions that several civic groups in Iwakuni try and preserve is the Hina doll displays that are set up on carpeted platforms. The different dolls and levels of the platform correspond with the Emperor and Empress during the Heian period and their staff.


  • Name: Girl’s Day Hina Doll Display
  • Price: Free!
  • Dates: May 3rd

12. Eat the Regional Okonomiyaki

A local dish of the region is okonomiyaki. These grilled flat pancake-like treats are made by layering batter, cabbage, pork, noodles, fried egg and the deliciously tasty okonomiyaki sauce. In Iwakuni, it is common to add oysters to the dish as the city is close to the sea.


  • Name: Okonomiyaki Resteraunt
  • Address: Varies
  • Price: Varies

13. Mikawa Mu Valley

About an hour away from Iwakuni lies the adventure theme park Mu Valley. Set up in an old mine, this is the perfect setting for an Indiana Jones adventure, visitors work in group or alone to navigate the maze and find their corresponding clues.


  • Name: Mikawa Mu Valley
  • Address: 1564-1 Mikawamachi Nekasa, Iwakuni 740-0505, Yamaguchi Prefecture
  • Price: ¥1450/ $14 USD
  • Website: http://www.muvalley.com/

14. Hike Mt. Jakuchi

Located on the border of Iwakuni and extending into Yoshika, Mt. Jakuchi is the tallest mountain in the Yamaguchi prefecture. Visitors can walk the Jakuchi Gorge trail to view 5 beautiful waterfalls in a moderate uphill climb.


  • Name: Jakuchi Gorge trail
  • Address: 1388 Nishikimachiusa, Iwakuni city, Yamaguchi prefecture
  • Website: http://kankou.iwakuni-city.net/jakuchikyo.html

15. Take a Dip at Kintaikyo Onsen

Book a day pass at this luxurious Onsen (natural hot springs) which is located at the lovely Iwakuni Kokusai Kanko Hotel. You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the luxury of steaming in an outdoor bath, but be warned… You’ll need to strip down completely. It’s considered unsanitary to wear clothing in the onsen.


  • Name: Kintaikyo Onsen
  • Address: 1 Chome-3 Yokoyama, Iwakuni-shi, Yamaguchi-ken 741-0062, Japan
  • Price: ¥1700/ $17 USD
  • Hours: 11:00 – 22:00
  • Website: http://www.iwakunikankohotel.co.jp/dayplan/

Hopefully you will enjoy your trip to a small traditional town in the south of Japan. Take in the culture that has been carefully cultivated for a couple hundred years as well as the yummy local food.

Have a good trip and travel!

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Asia, Chugoku Region, Japan, Yamaguchi Prefecture