The castle keep, as seen from Kintai Bridge, which was difficult to attack and with a warrior’s view
The Sengoku (Warring States) Era was a time when it was commonplace for castles to be built on flat land. However, Iwakuni Castle was built at the top of the north end of the 200m mountain ridge that projected out on the large peninsula by the Nishiki River. The river was a natural moat as it encircled the castle in three directions except the south. The mountain castle built in 1608 would be dismantled after a brief 7 years due to the Ikkoku-Ichijo (one castle per province) order given in 1615, but it was rebuilt in 1962. The tour of the castle begins with the view from Kintai Bridge. As you cross the 5 continuous arches of the bridge, and then get on the ropeway from Kikko Park at the foot of the mountain, you reach the top only to find that there are 2 routes to the castle. The wide left route heads for the rear of the castle while the right mountain route heads for the castle tower. By all means, take the mountain route since it will take you to the remnants of the Otemon Gate and the stone wall that will evoke those days which cannot be done if you take the wide route. Both sides of the high wall measure 19.6m in width and the dry moat measures 20m in depth; these two were included as some of the defensive measures for the castle. The top floor was built so that it was larger than the lower floor, a feature that was unusual for the time, and the view from the Southeast Asian-influenced castle tower which omitted the roof in the space between the two floors is refreshing. Head home on the wide route. The huge well known as Ohtsurui which has also been called an emergency exit is a must-see.
Valuable buildings such as warriors’ residences at Kikko Park at the foot of the mountain
Kikko Park was once the residence of the feudal lord. On its large grounds, there remain many valuable examples of architecture. Middle-class samurai housing spanning 250 years known as the Mekada Residences have been designated as National Important Cultural Properties. The Kinunkaku was built facing the moat of Kikko Park as a shrine building for votive picture tablets and has the appearance of a Japanese painting. The Kikko Shrine has been similarly designated as an Important Cultural Property and has a main shrine, a front shrine , a shrine gate and other structures that were built in the same time period that are extremely valuable.