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History of the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi

Iwakuni air station

There are U.S. military bases in many parts of Japan.

In Yamaguchi Prefecture, there is also the “U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni,” with a population of approximately 13,000, including Japanese nationals.

Naturally, there are many Americans, but there also tends to be a large number of people with an interest in the Japanese language and Japanese history.

In fact, Yamaguchi Prefecture is home to a variety of tourist attractions and places where you can experience the flavor of Japan.

If you are looking for a Japanese tutor and Japanese language lessons in Yamaguchi Prefecture, click here.

In this article, we would like to explain the history of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and the surrounding tourist attractions.

History of the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi

First, let us briefly list the history of the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Base in Yamaguchi.

This base is surrounded by mountains in the rear and the Seto Inland Sea in the front.

Not only the U.S. military but also the Maritime Self-Defense Force is stationed here.

The population, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, is about 13,000, and not only U.S. troops on duty but also their families live here.

Originally farmland and a village, the base became operational in 1940 and was used as a training base during World War II.

After World War II, the U.S. military stationed there, and in 1962 the base officially became the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station.

In 1997, the base reclaimed 800 meters of the Seto Inland Sea for noise reduction and relocated the runway.

In December 2012, Iwakuni Kintaihashi Airport opened, and today the area is home to a thriving petrochemical and paper manufacturing industry.

Like the area around Sasebo Air Base, Iwakuni City has a very international flavor.

Tourist attractions around the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

Many Americans serving at the base and their families are eager to learn more about Japan and are eager to learn Japanese, and they often go to sightseeing spots in the area.

So here we would like to list some of the tourist attractions around the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

1) Kintai Bridge (kintaikyou)

Particularly recommended for Americans who want to feel more Japanese is the Kintai Bridge.

One of the three most famous bridges in Japan, Kintai-kyo Bridge is a beautiful bridge with a series of five arches.

Known as a beautiful river, the clear Nishiki River is the largest river in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Because of the beauty of its water, it is used as brewing water for sake.

The bridge is 193.3 meters long and has several inclines due to its arch shape.

Visitors can view the bridge from the water on a “houseboat,” or they can walk slowly along the bridge and enjoy the river scenery.

Incidentally, Kintai-kyo Bridge is also actively lit up, so a visit at night is a different experience.

Especially in spring, the 1,500 cherry trees are in full bloom, attracting not only foreign tourists but also many Japanese tourists.

Iwakuni view

2) Iwakuni Castle (Iwakunijyou)

Iwakuni Castle is a mountain castle overlooking Iwakuni City.

Since it was rebuilt in 1960, it is very beautiful and is a recommended sightseeing spot for foreign tourists because of its display of armor and armors.

From the castle tower, you can see not only Iwakuni City but also the islands dotting the Seto Inland Sea.

Since it is located right next to the aforementioned Kintai Bridge, it is recommended to visit the two together as a set.

There is a photo spot where both can be included in the picture, so try to go early in the morning when there are fewer tourists and take pictures.

Iwakuni castle

3) Jakuchikyo (jyakuchikyo)

Jakuchikyo is located about 25 km northwest of Iwakuni, but it is still accessible for sightseeing on holidays.

The water is so clean that it has been selected as one of the “Best Waterfalls in Japan,” and the waterfalls are so scenic that they have been chosen as one of the “100 Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Japan.

There is not only one waterfall, but a series of five waterfalls with a drop of 200 meters.

These five waterfalls are called the “Five Dragon Falls.

If you are feeling “stressed out,” why not go to these waterfalls as you will be bathed in negative ions to the fullest?

4) Momijitdanikouen (Momijit Valley Park)

Momijitadani Park, located on Miyajima Island, about 15 km north-northeast of Iwakuni, is, as its name suggests, a spot where the autumn leaves are spectacular.

A whopping 700 maple trees, mainly Iroha maples, can be seen here.

The Momiji-bashi Bridge is especially beautiful, and is recognized by many as a photo spot.

The most beautiful season to view the autumn leaves is from mid to late November every year.

If you are able to take a vacation during that time and the weather is fine, you should definitely visit.

Iwakuni view

Yamaguchi Prefecture has many sightseeing spots.

The four spots mentioned above are located not too far from Iwakuni, but there are so many other popular spots in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

  • Kakunoshima Bridge
  • Shimonoseki City Shimonoseki Aquarium
  • Motonosumi Inari Shrine
  • Akiyoshidai
  • Akiyoshidai Akiyoshido Cave
  • Hofu Tenmangu Shrine
  • Beppu Benten Pond

As you can see, there are too many fascinating places to list.

If you feel like going away, why not take the family?


In this article, we have described the “History of the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station and the surrounding tourist attractions.

There are many Americans living at the “U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station” in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and they actively communicate with Japanese people.

If you are an American who wants to know more about Japan, please visit the spots listed here.

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