Iwakuni City-White Snakes
Iwakuni is home to Albino Japanese white snakes that are the only ones of their kind in Japan. They are designated as a national treasure in Japan. Normally ,Albinism only lasts one generation but the offsprings of the Iwakuni White Snakes all inherit Albinism from their parents. Unlike in western countries, Japan reveres snakes, especially white snakes. The Japanese goddess of arts and financial success, Benzaiten is accompanied by a large white snake. Since the Edo period, people in Iwakuni regarded White snakes with reverence as house guardian deities who could bring good fortune. Today, you can see white snakes at the Imazu White Snake Observation Facility(Imazu Tenjin Shirohebi Shiryokan), they breed them both indoors and outdoors. There are 5 facilities in Iwakuni that are dedicated to protecting and breeding White Snakes as their Albinism makes them easy targets for predators in the wild. There is the White Snake Museum that is close to the famous Kintaikyo Bridge, a wooden arched bridge with 5 arches. The museum has exhibits on the history of the snakes in Iwakuni as well as live specimens to view. The last place related to White Snakes that I will talk about is the White Snake Shrine(Shirohebi Jinja) which, is perfect for seeing the religious importance of our pigment lacking slithering friends. It is located next to the Imazu White Snake Observation Facility. The shrine is dedicated to Benzaiten and people visit there to pray for blessings regarding financial and business matters. The shrine is centered around the white snakes and that can be seen in statues and decoration around the shrine grounds. You can also purchase white snake-themed charms and other goods at the Shrine`s store.
One last thing, you can also see Cormorant fishing on the Nishiki river if you come during the summertime. This is a 300-year-old method of fishing where the Commorant catches fish for the fisherman and is now done primarily for tourism. But Keep in mind, there is a ring around the birds` neck to prevent them from swallowing large fish which you may find cruel.
If you click here you can get more information about White Snakes in Iwakuni. The website is in Japanese so use google translate on your browser to translate it to English.
Iwakuni is 50 minutes from Hiroshima station. It is 1 hour and 45 minutes from Yamaguchi station by train and bus.
Imazu White Snake Observation Facility
From JR Iwakuni station take the Iwakuni bus and get off at “Nagayama Koen” or “Tenjincho” stops. Then walk for 5 minutes.
Admission: 100 yen
White Snake Shrine
Located next to White Snake Observation Facility
White Snake Museum
From Iwakuni station take the number 21 bus heading to Shin-Iwakuni station and get off at the
Kintaikyo. Its arounnd a 15 minute bus ride. It is 10 minute walk to the museum.
Admission: Adults-200 yen Children-100 yen
Hours:9am to 5 pm