We were fortunate to witness this special arms display with various formations, when we visited ( Kintaikyo 錦帯橋) of Iwakuni City in Yamaguchi Prefecture of Japan.
I was fascinated by the special uniforms worn by the foot soldiers – Ashigaru (足軽) & especially the Samurai here with the Sakura crest on his outer coat, which is the Flower of the city of Iwakuni.
Ashigaru (足軽) were initially peasants with allegiances to their landowner Samurais & were conscripted to fight in many wars & conflicts between the 14th to 16th centuries. Later on the need for mercenaries with no particular loyalties were employed & the formed the backbone of samurai armies.
( Tanegashima 種子島) is a matchlock firearm introduced to Japan through the Portuguese in 1543. This musket gun was used by the samurai class & their foot soldiers ( Ashigaru 足軽 & within a short span of time, the use of the Tanegashima in battles brought significant changes during the later half of the Sengoku Period (1467-1603) when feudal lords vied for supremacy all over Japan. )
This is Kintai Bridge or ( Kintaikyo 錦帯橋), an exceptional historical wooden arch bridge perched on 6.6m stone abutments situated at the foot of Mount Shiroyama & the pride of Iwakuni City in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan.
( Kintaikyo 錦帯橋) which spans Nishiki River was originally constructed in 1673 by Hiroyoshi Kikkawa but it was destroyed by typhoon on 14th Sept 1950. Restoration started a week from the aftermath & it was finally completed in 1953 using traditional techniques in the construction. Kijiya
The length of is 210m & the width, 5m. The latest restoration took place in 2004 & this interesting bridge with its five arches symbolises western Honshu. Kintaikyo
We parked at the Shimogawara River bed parking lot & after crossing Kintai Bridge, you will enter Kikko Park (吉香公園) & see the statue of Kikkawa Hiroyoshi the 3rd Lord of the Iwakuni Domain who initiated the construction of Kintaikyo.
Kikko Park (吉香公園) was designated a National Treasure in 1922 & it is a spacious park with walking paths, a variety of floral, trees & fountains.
During the Edo period, the residences of the ruling Kikkawa family were located where Kikko Park now stands & the retainers of the ruling family were located nearby. There are former samurai residences & museums featuring historic artefacts in this area. Kinunkaku Pavilion( ) overlooks the castle moat. 錦雲閣
This is a bust dedicated to Hozumi Tanaka a Japanese composer who wrote the song engraved in stone & you can press a button on the black box & hear the music he composed.
This is the Noh (能 – Skill ) Stage where classical Japanese music dramas or is performed. This major art form which sprung up during the 14th century was developed by Kan’ami & his son Zeami & is the oldest theatre art still regularly performed today. A tradition Noh program includes 5 Noh plays with a comedic Nogaku plays in between but the abbreviated program of 2 Noh plays & 1 Kyogen piece prevails today. In 1957, the Japanese government designated Kyogen as an Important Intangible Cultural Propery which affords a degree of legal protection to the tradition as well as its most accomplished practitioners. Nogaku
A short 5 min ride on the Ropeway within Kikko Park will take you up to Mount Shiroyama where Iwakunijo (岩国城 is situated. For convenience you can buy the Combo ticket at Kintaikyo entrance for ¥940 which gives you access to the bridge, ropeway & castle. – Iwakuni Castle}
Iwakuni Castle (岩国城 was built between 1601 to 1608 by Kikkawa Hiroie as his own castle. He was a retainer of the vassal of the Shogun of the Mori Clan. It was unfortunately torn down in 1615 by decree of the Shogun after 7 years of its completion. Iwakunijo)
Iwakuni Castle (岩国城 is a 4 stories high ferro-concrete structure rising about 200m above the modern city of Iwakuni. This present reconstruction dates from 1962 & has outlasted the original by far. Iwakunijo)
The magnificent view of the City of Iwakuni crowns the visit to Iwakuni Castle.
Peeking out of the roof top window of Iwakuni Castle.
Panoramic view of Kintaikyo ( 錦帯橋) & Nishiki River (錦川) from Iwakuni Castle.
Before the Ming Dynasty, ( Kintaikyo 錦帯橋) was known as Hanbi Bridge. In 1653 during the reign of Emperor Shunzhi of Qing Dynasty, a Zen master Du Li was invited to preach in Japan. Inspired by the description of a bridge in the West Lake Chronicles that Master Du Li brought from China, the Castellan of Iwakuni decided to build a 4-pier, 5-arch bridge over the Jinchuan River in 1673 naming it Kintai.
This is one of Japan’s Top 3 Most Famous Bridges
(日本三名橋-situated in Iwakuni City of Yamaguchi Prefecture. Come in Springtime & you would be awed by over 3000 blooming Sakura trees & in Summer, be thrilled by the rapid, crystal clear waters flowing beneath the bridge. Be dazzled by the vibrant vermillion maples in Autumn or enjoy the tranquility of a snow-clad landscape come Winter. Nihon Sanmeikyo)
Whichever season you choose to come here, it is still magical!