MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI -- The Kintai Bridge, one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Japan, attracts many people with its peculiar design and beauty. More than 700,000 people visit the bridge a year, according to Iwakuni City officials. Because of the Kintai Bridge's unique shape and natural beauty, it has been counted as one of the three most famous bridges in Japan. It was also chosen as number one out of the 100 most beautiful sites in Japan, according to a Tokyo newspaper company. "The Kintai area has different colors in each of the four seasons," said Misao Shiomura, Iwakuni resident. "We can see fresh young leaves in spring, fireworks and cormorant fishing in summer, tinted leaves in fall and white snow in winter." The Kintai Bridge has five arches. The bridge spans 645 feet, but with the arches, the walking distance is 700 feet. Its width is 17 feet, and the supporting columns are 22 feet in height. The columns are 117 feet apart from one another. "We can see straight bridges everywhere, but a five-arch, wooden bridge is only here in Iwakuni," said Yukiko Yamanaka, Iwakuni resident. "The bridge is not only fun to look at, but also fun to walk across. Because of those arches, people walking in front of me appear and disappear. I'm proud of Kintai Bridge and I'd like many people to come to look at the bridge from all over the world." The bridge was originally built in 1673 by Hiroyoshi Kikkawa, the feudal lord, or samurai, of that era. In those times, the Nishiki River protected the Iwakuni Castle from enemies, as a natural outer moat. The original bridge stood until 1950, when it was destroyed by a typhoon. Reconstruction was completed three years after its unfortunate demise. The unique design of the bridge allows the center three arches to absorb the weight of the structure and could hold about 6,000 people. Iwakuni City tests the strength of the Kintai Bridge every five years. On the last test in 1998, the bridge was judged to have enough strength; however, Iwakuni City officials are currently renovating the bridge between 2001 and 2003 due to deterioration. During construction, a temporary bridge is planned to be built alongside the bridge, so people can still cross parts of the bridge not under construction. Although the original Kintai Bridge was destroyed by a typhoon, its construction technique is being kept up today. Kintai Bridge has attracted sightseers for many years and continues to fascinate people.