Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Stepping Back in Time at Nishi Iwakuni Station

Stepping Back in Time at Nishi Iwakuni Station

Kathryn Spoor

Japan is filled with many places that you wouldn’t think of visiting by simply hearing the name alone. Nishi Iwakuni Station is one of those places. Chances are you wouldn’t likely find yourself making a stop at Nishi Iwakuni Station during your travels through Iwakuni City unless it happened to be where your train was stopping on the way to another more notable destination. However, those who pass by this site are sure to miss out on experiencing a beautiful piece of history.

It doesn’t take a lot of examination to determine that Nishi Iwakuni Station is a special and historic place. Originally built in 1929 the station, which was known at the time simply as Iwakuni Station until 1942, is very much unlike what you would expect to see when visiting Japan. The architecture of Nishi Iwakuni Station features many western elements which stand out against the background of an otherwise typically Japanese city. Windows, columns and arches make the entire structure seem as though it was transplanted from a far off place. However, elements of the surrounding historic city are incorporated into Nishi Iwakuni Station’s structure including the arches above the entrance which have been made to resemble the nearby Kintaikyo or Kintai Bridge.

Stepping inside Nishi Iwakuni Station is like stepping back in time. Despite the building having been built in 1929 it has been restored and kept in a way that I can only describe as remarkable. From the wooden benches to the light fixtures every element of this building has a story to tell. Some of that story can even be learned in the moderately sized display cases off to the right as you are entering the station. There you will find numerous photographs and brief descriptions of Nishi Iwakuni Station’s past.



After soaking up all the history there is inside Nishi Iwakuni Station head outside to see another impressive piece of Iwakuni City’s past. Parked just to the left of the entrance is a faded white and red car. This car, which features both Mitsubishi and Jeep logos, is no ordinary car. In fact it is fitted with a special gasification system which was used during World War II. The need for this gasification system arose when standard gasoline was in short supply during the war. Because cars, much like the one outside the station, were still necessary alternative methods of fueling vehicles became necessary. The solution was fixing gasification systems to combustion engine vehicles. Although the system seems cumbersome it would make it possible to burn readily available substances, such as wood and charcoal, and fuel vehicles when gasoline was unavailable. The vehicle is rather impressive as is the gasification system itself.



Visiting the beautiful and historic Nishi Iwakuni Station is free and parking is available for those who are staying only a short while to see the station itself. However, the station is unmanned and therefore staff is not readily available to ask questions or assist you in any way. This should be taken into consideration before visiting. Also because the station is not equipped with modern wickets, or ticket gates, paper tickets must be used as opposed to IC Cards. If you plan to depart from this station please plan accordingly.


Wood Gas From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_gas
Wood Gas Generator From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_gas_generator
About Nishi Iwakuni Station: http://www.iwakuni-kanko.com/nishi/nishieki/index.php