JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.99

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Kintaikyo Bridge

Kintaikyo Bridge
Kintaikyo Bridge

Situated in the far west of Honshu island, Iwakuni City in Yamaguchi Prefecture is home to the famous Kintaikyo Bridge, one of Japan’s three famous historic bridges.

This wooden bridge is composed of five sequential bridges located over Nishiki River and such structure is rarely seen anywhere in the world. This is the longest wooden-arched bridge in the world, boasting a length of approx. 200m, and the tallest of the arches stands approx. 13m above the riverbed.

The bridge was first built in 1673, but was almost entirely washed away in 1950 by typhoon-fed flood.

Although there were initial plans to rebuild the bridge using reinforced concrete, based on the strong wishes of local residents to maintain the outstanding traditional beauty of the bridge, it was rebuilt with the same timberwork arches as the former bridge in 1953.

In summer, cormorant fishing, the traditional method of fishing for ayu (sweetfish) can be seen in Nishiki River. In August the Nishiki River Mizu-no-Saiten Festival is held and visitors can enjoy the sight of the floodlit bridge and fireworks lighting the night sky.

Yamaguchi Prefecture is home to the Iwakuni Air Base, which is operated by the U.S. Marine Corps and jointly used with the JMSDF. This joint use dates back to 1957, when the Iwakuni Auxiliary Air Training Facility was established.

In 1973, the JMSDF Fleet Air Wing 31 was newly formed as the unit to operate the anti-submarine amphibian PS-1 aircraft and various unit realignments have been conducted since then.

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