The Kintai Bridge, built in 1673, is a historic wooden arch bridge in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi. Located at the foot of Mount Yokoyama, home to Iwakuni Castle, the bridge is known for its five graceful wooden arches.
The three middle arches of the bridge have a span of 35.1 meters, while the two end arches have a span of 34.8 meters. Four stone pillars and two wooden pillars support the arches.
The bridge and castle are near Kikkou Park and are a popular tourist destination, especially in spring and autumn when visitors can see the cherry blossoms or the colorful 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.
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