If you decide to stay the night, the cheapest option is Iwakuni Youth Hostel (岩国ユースホステル; t 0827/43-1092, f 0123; dorm beds ¥2835/person), in the peaceful southwest corner of the park, ten minutes’ walk from the bus stop by the bridge; it has shared Japanese-style rooms with TVs. The best ryokan is the pretty Shiratame Ryokan (白為旅館; t 0827/41-0074, w www.gambo-ad.com/english/; ¥30,001−40,000), with rooms overlooking the bridge; even if you can’t afford to stay, try to go for lunch. The Iwakuni Kokusai Kankō Hotel (岩国国際観光ホテル; t 0827/43-1111, w www.gambo-ad.com; ¥20,001−30,000) has branches on both sides of the river.
There are several eating options on the east side of the bridge; try the local fish dishes, such as Iwakuni-zushi, a block of vinegared rice topped with bits of cooked fish and vegetables, at Yoshida, which lies just beyond some interesting antique shops leading up to the Kintai-kyō. Kikkō, across from the cable-car station, has picture menus of Iwakuni-zushi sets and deep-fried renkon (lotus root), another regional speciality. In the summer be sure to try the ayu, a sweet fish caught by cormorants, available at many of the restaurants near the bridge. Otherwise, pack a picnic and enjoy it in the park.