I know it's been awhile since I continued this leg of my trip blog. Last time I left you on how I stayed overnight on Okunoshima (Rabbit Island), after traveling into Onomichi for the day. Today, I'll be finishing off this last leg of my trip in Iwakuni City.
After I got off Rabbit Island in the morning after breakfast, I continued west into Hiroshima City. I didn't spend long there - I knew I would have time the next day for another stop over before heading back east. But I did want to stop into Miyajima Island, which I had time for as Iwakuni was only about 30 minutes away by local train from there.
The reason was because I wanted to see the now under construction Itsukushima torii gate.
I've seen it plenty of times uncovered. But construction happened every 100 years and while it's not glorious feat, I figured that's still a something to see, right? I mean, if you put a more positive spin into it... lol.
Though to be honest... I really just want to eat fried momiji-manju (middle) and my favourite apple flavoured momiji croissant (right). Can't forget those grilled oysters with cheese and mayo, and garlic butter either (left). Yummmmm.
And that I did.
After a light lunch, I braved some steps up to my favourite shrine.
I enjoy hiking up Daishoin to see these little statues. They are scattered all around the shrine. And there are literally thousands of them. They have the traditional ones (right), but lurkering the shadows, you may find a few ultraman ones too (left)!
After saying farewell to this deer who clearly wants in on the oysters too, I finally moved onwards to Iwakuni - our final destination of this trip.
This was new territory for me, as I had never officially stepped foot into Yamaguchi prefecture. I mean... I did, but I didn't. 3 years ago when I crossed that underwater bridge from Kyushu...... And I have proof!
That absolutely counts.
But this time, I'll finally be sightseeing for the first time in Yamaguchi prefecture.
I arrived at Iwakuni station around 3 PM, and took a quick bus ride towards Kintai Bridge area, where I would be staying the night. The ryokan I had chosen is the Iwakuni Kokusai Kanko Hotel, which prides itself in the outdoor hot spring it has facing the Kintai Bridge and other surrounding sightseeing spots. The room I stayed at is very minimal business hotel type, but it had everything I need for a simple, no-frills stay.
Promptly after the check in, the staff there are kindly shown me to my room and made small talk with me regarding my meals and my plans to sightsee. I had no meal plans with them. I had already prepped some convenience store food when I was at the train station. I told them I was set for the night. The staff then explained that unfortunately, the Kintai Bridge was under construction at the moment, which I caught a glimpse of on my way to the hotel (by the time I release this article - don't worry, the construction will be over). Iwakuni castle was also under renovation, and that I had come at the wrong time. He reassured me though that I could still walk across the bridge, and I can still enjoy the views they had from the hot spring. He wished me a good stay, and went on his way. Very kind gentleman!
After settling in, I took advantage of the daylight and went for a quick bath in the hot spring. I wanted to see how the view was.
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the inside, but I can tell you that the views from the outdoor hot spring was indeed quite spectacular! But here's some pictures of the hot spring and their viewing deck:
The sun was starting to set at this point, and I wanted to walk the bridge and get pictures of the bridge both in daylight and darkness. So I went out for a stroll before dinner. (click on the thumbnails to scroll)
Normally to cross the bridge, you must pay. But I suppose after a certain time, it's simply just a free-for-all type deal. If you want to avoid the fee and you're staying nearby, I recommend going around dusk.
I went back onto the bridge the next day though, since it was sunny and the weather was great for pictures. There I had to pay to cross, and I got to see some workers working on the Bridge. It seems like they were replacing some of the material they had used to fill the cracks of this long wooden bridge - a method they use to keep the structure sound all year round. It was quite interesting!
The reason why I wanted to cross again was because I wanted to explore the other side of the bridge a bit more before returning to Hiroshima, as there are a few attractions there - Iwakuni castle, a few shrines, some hiking trails and most of all, their albino snake museum.
The castle was closed, so that was a no-go. I skipped the snake museum because while I liked danger noodles enough, I didn't want to pay to see them. So I walked around the town a little bit to capture some of the essence of the town and their shrines. (click on the thumbnails to scroll)
All in all, it was a great town. I went during a bad time and good time, quite frankly. While things were closed... it was also when COVID19 had just started to peak in China, just at the beginning of the tourism halt. So I got to enjoy the place with minimal tourists around me. And I really enjoyed my short time in Iwakuni. I would love to return again during peak sakura season, as it seems the sakura lines the river right by Kintai Bridge. Maybe another year!
For now, it's time to go home.
I took a highway bus back to Hiroshima city, which took me to a bus terminal just outside of the A-Bomb dome. Of course, since I was in Hiroshima, you cannot leave the city without Hiroshima okonomiyaki!! (that would be a sin)
And to that, until next trip!