How to fly free (Military Space A) to Iwakuni from Okinawa Japan
Iwakuni surprised me in all the best Fall ways! The flight over was free, since we are now space A professionals. Just kidding, kinda. The patriot express which flies every Saturday from Okinawa with a direct stop first to Iwakuni is a pretty sure thing and for the most part, frequent flights back to Okinawa from Iwakuni. We had a smooth experience, but Space A is Space A wear your flexible hat and remember you are flying free, extend extra grace and patience.
MCAS Iwakuni made everything easy. Upon landing at their passenger terminal there is a free shuttle which rounds the base with a stop at a car rental place. We borrowed a friends car, but next time when we return to ski we will rent! You will need a car there, no doubt. Stay at the Lodge on base- Inn at the Corps also known as Torrey Pines. The Lodge has all the things-free continental breakfast, suites, walkable shops next door and a super friendly/helpful desk.
We had two simple missions in Iwakuni, visit with friends and see Fall leaves. Check and check. I forget where I live (Okinawa) is nothing like mainland Japan and its a welcome departure. The sights, sounds, and smells are completely different. I found Iwakuni to resemble upstate NY in the fall-mountainous, green, and absolutely stunning pockets of Fall leaves complete with crisp air.
Here are our picks in Iwakuni, minus Hiroshima which we will do when we return if my heart can bear it.
I’ll be honest i was going to be ok with skipping this, I thought, its just a bridge how extraordinary can it be, boy was I wrong. Do not miss this bridge and more so the surrounding grounds, particularly during Fall or cherry blossom season. Strolling the grounds and crossing the bridge was truly a treat, took my breath away. We happened to be here during one of the festivals so they lit the bridge at night with fire which presented a whole other level of breathtaking; serendipitous timing on our part!
Chicken Shack (Irori Sanzoku Kuga)
This is a tourist trap, I repeat a tourist trap, but for good reason. The grounds here are specatucular as well and the drive there, I recommend sun setting hour for jaw-dropping light bouncing off Fall covered mountains. The chicken shack looks like a scene right out of Karate kid II, ya know the end part in that very Japanese setting-tables all around, pond, waterfalls etc. This place is truly a campus with multiple dining options, varying huts, and tea rooms for dining. The food lived up to the hype, obviously order the chicken. You will wait for a table unless you come on a weekday at an odd time, which is my recommendation, but promise it’s worth it.
Rule of thumb when we travel, do something just for the kids for a whole day. This was that day. I present to you the highest and longest roller slide complete with a lift to get you to the top. Did I mention the views from up there?! Heavenly. This park also comes with a obstacle course, bunnies to pet and feed, and the unexpected mvp of the place-the plate spinning game. Hours of fun for the whole family.
The absolute crown jewel of the trip, Miyajima Island. This place had me at the floating torri gate but it had my animal loving son at the free roaming deer. In true Japan form this place was so much more than expected. It had its own culture, food, and flavors -hello fresh oysters and the cutest leaf shaped cookies you ever did see, plus it was pristine scenery from every angle. From Iwakuni, drive to the train station then hop a ferry on over to Miyajima. I would have easily spent the whole weekend here. The dreamiest.
A Christian, married to an insanely gifted and talented Marine husband, mother to Gideon (15), Boaz (10) and our rainbow baby, Shiloh. I’m actually an R.N turned accidental photographer, currently living in Fredericksuburg, Va after completing our final tour in Okinawa Japan. You'll find travel, Jesus, and lifestyle posts here on the Journal.