Constructed in 1673, the Kintai Bridge (錦帯橋, Kintaikyo) is a historical wooden arch bridge in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi. The bridge is at the foot of Mt. Yokoyama (where Iwakuni Castle makes its home) and is interesting for its five graceful wooden arches. The three middle arches of the bridge span 35.1 meters, while the two end arches span 34.8 meters; four stone piers and two wooden piers support the arches. The bridge and castle are located near Kikkou Park and remain a popular tourist destination, especially during the spring and autumn when visitors can see cherry blossoms or autumn leaves. In 1922, the bridge was declared a national treasure.
Five wooden bridges are connected over four piers. The bridge itself is about 200 meters wide. The three central bridges are arch bridges while the bridges attached to the shoreline are girder bridges. This type of structure is rare in the world of bridges and there are no UNESCO World Heritage Site bridges with a similar structure. During a 2005 typhoon, the bridge even stood up against damage to its girder piers thanks to its connection structure.
The wood used for the current bridge’s body is red pine, cypress, zelkova, chestnut, oak, and hinoki wood. During the Heisei period when the wood was replaced, timber was collected from the entire country making this bridge 100% domestic lumber. The bridge piers once collapsed during the Showa reconstruction but were recollected and the cobblestone built once more using the original stone, with concrete supports.
The Kintai Bridge has almost completely preserved its restoration records from the time of its creation to the present day. According to records, during the Edo period the three center bridges were replaced every 20 years and the shoreline bridges were replaced every 40 years. The balustrade has been replaced every 15 years. It’s said that this method of restoration lent itself to the success of growing carpentry skills and technology.
A 20 minute walk from Kawanishi Station and Nishi-Iwakuni Station – from the latter, buses (11, 14, 21, 30, 34) can take you to the Kintaikyo Bus Center in about 13 minutes, just beside the bridge entrance.