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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Kintaikyo (錦帯橋) which spans Nishiki River was originally  constructed in 1673 by Hiroyoshi Kikkawa but it was destroyed by typhoon Kijiya on 14th Sept 1950. Restoration started a week from the aftermath & it was finally completed in 1953 using traditional techniques in the construction.
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The length of Kintaikyo is 210m & the width, 5m. The latest restoration took place in 2004 & this interesting bridge with its five arches symbolises western Honshu.
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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.
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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.
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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(錦雲閣) overlooks the castle moat.
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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.
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This is the Noh (能 – SkillStage where classical Japanese music dramas or Nogaku 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 Kyogen plays in between but the abbreviated program of 2 Noh plays & 1 Kyogen piece prevails today. In 1957, the Japanese government designated Nogaku as an Important Intangible Cultural Propery which affords a degree of legal protection to the tradition as well as its most accomplished practitioners.
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A short 5 min ride on the Ropeway within Kikko Park  will take you up to Mount Shiroyama where Iwakunijo (岩国城 – Iwakuni Castle}   is situated. For convenience you can buy the Combo ticket at Kintaikyo entrance for ¥940 which gives you access to the bridge, ropeway & castle.
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Iwakuni Castle (岩国城 Iwakunijowas 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.
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Iwakuni Castle (岩国城 Iwakunijois 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.
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The magnificent view of the City of Iwakuni crowns  the visit to Iwakuni Castle.
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Peeking out of the roof top window of Iwakuni Castle.
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Panoramic view of Kintaikyo  (錦帯橋) & Nishiki River (錦川) from Iwakuni Castle.
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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-Nihon Sanmeikyosituated 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.

Whichever season you choose to come here, it is still magical!

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