Iwakuni Castle 岩国城
Founder Kikkawa Hiroie
Kikkawa
Year 1608
Type Mountaintop
Condition Reconstructed
Reconstructed 1962 (concrete)
Structure 4 levels, 4 stories
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Map Google Map
Access Iwakuni Station (San'yo Honsen), 20 minutes by bus to the Kintaikyo Bridge, 10 minute walk to the ropeway to the top
Website Iwakuni Information
Visited February 1996, August 1998
Notes I visited Iwakuni in a day trip from Hiroshima. It's worth the visit to see the famous bridge Kintaikyo and the samurai settlement. All current pictures were donated by Terry P.
History Iwakuni-jo was built by Kikkawa Hiroie in 1608. Just a few years later in 1615 the castle was torn down to comply with the Tokugawa law of "one castle per province." The current reconstruction was placed a little bit closer to the front edge of the mountain so it could be more easily seen from below and to give visitors a better view of the valley from the castle.
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  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    April 04, 2014 at 10:49 PM
    One of the first castles I visited, blown away by its location and then there was the bridge and the remnants of the town below the castle.
  • Kris on My Page    July 23, 2012 at 10:00 PM
    Do go to the Iwakuni Art Museum. Their collection is amazing. I didn`t go to the Kikkawa museum, and I found the assortment in the castle keep rusty, poorly displayed and of limited relevancy, but Iwakuni Art Museum is a privately owned, very well-cared for and well-presented collection of arms, armour, helmets, maps, letters and similar artifacts. There was also an absolutely amazing original Sengoku Era screen depicting the Battle of Kawanakajima – (there is a long story of how it ended up at Iwakuni; the connection being the Kikkawa clan originally served the Aki-Takeda clan). (If you buy the bridge/ropeway/castle combi ticket there is a slight discount for the museum included). The bridge is amazing; the keep is no better or worse than any other Showa era reconstruction; it has been reconstructed away from its original location to provide magnificent views right down to the sea. The grounds themselves were quite disappointing in a way because it seemed like the city doesn`t care about the original castle ruins very much; the area around the Kita-no-maru looks like it is in want of maintenance and sign-posting. At the top of the ropeway there is a sign with two arrows saying in misleading English, `take the left path.` Take both paths – one up and one down - the right path has a lot more stone work on it and is far more atmospheric; the left path is paved and has the ruins of a well. At the bottom near the bridge there is a nice statue of Sasaki Kojiro; his tsubame-gaeshi move was invented after observing swallows flying at the bridge at Iwakuni.
  • furinkazan on My Page    April 24, 2012 at 06:27 PM
    Like RaymondW wrote about this castle, it deserves 3 stars because of the site, not for the castle in itself. The castle is nice from the outside but too dull in the inside. Some nice swords indeed, but only one armor. The view from it is very beautifull. You can buy a ticket at the entrance of the Kintaikyo-bridge for 930yen. It gives you access to the bridge, the use of the ropeway in both directions and the castlekeep. You receive a reduction of 100yen for the Kikkawa museum and for the museum of arts. I went to the Kikkawa museum, but there are almost only scrolls to be seen, There was only one armor and one daisho. For the 400yen, you still have to pay, i found it a little too much. The Mekata residence is interesting as is the Kikkojinja. There are also some white snakes for 100yen to see, next to the Mekata residence. I found them interesting.
  • bryanbaier on My Page    February 13, 2012 at 10:09 PM
    Come for Kintaikyo Bridge, come up the mountain to this castle to see the bridge and the river from above
  • Frank T. on My Page    December 30, 2011 at 04:28 PM
    RaymondW below has done a good write up for Iwakuni, but it easily earns three stars. I give it 3.5 for all its merits.
  • iwander on My Page    December 21, 2011 at 05:26 AM
    Mountain top castle
  • RaymondW on My Page    September 03, 2011 at 09:37 PM
    This castle exceeded my expectations. I knew that it was a concrete reconstruction with the castle keep moved to a more visible spot. The reconstructed keep is pretty impressive on the outside. Inside could have been done a little better with more wooden paneling to hide the concrete construction, but it is no worse than many other reconstructed castle keeps using modern materials. The museum has a pretty good display of Japanese samurai swords including one gigantic one that was over 1.5 metres! The view, like Gifu Castle, is amazing with the whole panorama of Iwakuni spread out below. Apart from the reconstructed castle keep, there is the base of the original castle keep plus original ishigaki to be seen. Some of these stone walls have fallen seriously into disrepair, and if you make it to the bailey lying just below the Kitanomaru, you will find blocks of stone just randomly lying around. This castle reconstruction and museum is worth a solid 2 stars, but taking into account the view, the castle town below with a samurai residence, some old gates, the famous Kintai Bridge, and a shrine in the former grounds of the palace located at the base of the hill, this is certainly a 3 star site and worth spending a good half day. If you have time, about 3km from JR Kuba Station is Kamei Castle Ruin. There are plenty of ishigaki (stone walls) to be seen here. By train, it is only around 15 minutes from JR Nishi-Iwakuni to JR Kuba.
  • Elaine Parsons    July 30, 2011 at 09:22 AM
    Words can't describe the beauty of this Castle. Love it. What a history lesson just to see it. Japan is a beautiful country.
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Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Iwakuni Castle views
donjon Iwakuni donjon
Iwakuni Castle as seen frm Kintaikyo bridge Kintaikyo bridge
Kintaikyo Bridge seen from the castle Iwakuni castle as seen from the bridge.