3 Architecturally Amazing Bridges in Japan to See or Drive Over

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  • Do you want to see or drive over some of the architecturally amazing bridges in Japan? Do you want to witness the Japanese precision in technological advancement? Do you want to know about the Japanese artistry of bridge building? Here are three of the most awesome bridges in the country.

    1. Eshima Ohashi Bridge (江島大橋)

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    If you are scared of heights, you may not want to drive over this steep roller coaster-like bridge in Japan. Linking the cities of Matsue (松江) and Sakaiminato (境港) across the Lake Nakaumi (中海), Eshima Ohashi is one of the most terrifying bridges in the world.

    With a slope gradient of 6.1 on the Shimane (島根) side and 5.1 on the Tottori (鳥取) side, this unusual steep bridge is the third largest of its kind in the world. It is a two-lane road over a mile long and with a width of 11.3 meters, it is the largest rigid frame bridge in entire Japan. This is designed in such a way to allow the ships to pass underneath.

    The maintenance of the bridge is taken care by Sakaiminato Management Association. The construction started in 1997 and was completed in 2004. The height of this bridge is about 44.7 meters.

    Eshima Ohashi Bridge can give nightmares to even the most skilled drivers out there. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Many motor companies such as Daihatsu (ダイハツ) have featured this bridge in some of their commercials to showcase the durability of their vehicles.

    If you want to see this awesome architectural wonder, do pay a visit to Sakaiminato in Shimane Prefecture.

    Eshima Ohashi Bridge Website *Japanese only

    2. Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge (明石海峡大橋)

    Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is a part of the Honshu (本州) – Shikoku (四国) Highway which links the Awaji Island (淡路島) to the Honshu port of Kobe (神戸). It is, in fact, the longest suspension bridge in the world with a central span of 1,991 meters. Its total length is 3,911 meters and its height is 298.3 meters.

    Before the construction of this bridge, people used to take the ferry to reach Iwaya (岩屋) on Awaji Island from Honshu mainland. During harsh weather, hundreds used to lose their lives crossing the inland sea. In 1955, there was a major accident that took away 168 people, thus pushing the Japanese government to start making plans for this bridge.

    With an estimated cost of 3.6 billion USD (as per 1998 rates), the construction of this bridge took over ten years to build. The Great Hanshin Earthquake (阪神・淡路大震災) in 1995 made the towers move, thus increasing the span by 1 meter.

    Akashi-Kaikyo has been designed in a way to withstand strong winds, earthquakes, and resonant forces. It has six carrier lanes and four emergency lanes. It helps vehicles cross Akashi Strait that separates Honshu and Awaji.

    The bridge is lit with colors during the nights and on special occasions, making it one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. The computer technology makes many various patterns and combinations of lights during festivals.

    The bridge was opened for traffic in the year 1998 after being inaugurated by the crown prince, Naruhito (皇太子徳仁親王). Originally, it was designed to be a railroad bridge, but as the construction continued, it ended up as a complete road bridge. This is a major center of attraction in Kobe and is one of the highly recommended must-visit places when you are around the city.

    There are tours available near the bridge for you to know the history and to capture the panoramic views of the sea. The admission fee for the tour is usually 3,000 yen per adult and 1,500 yen for junior high school students. In the winter season i.e. from December to March, the tours are not available due to the slippery nature of the bridge. Proper shoes are recommended when you participate in the tour even in the summer season.

    Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge Website

    3. Kintai Bridge (錦帯橋)

    Kintai Bridge is one of the most beautiful and unique wooden bridges in the world. It is also one of the oldest bridges in Japan. The bridge is a famous tourist attraction, especially during the cherry blossom season. It is a traditional bridge with more than 300 years of history. It is considered as a National Treasure by the Japanese government.

    It is close to Kikkou Park (吉香公園), a major tourist spot in the city of Iwakuni (岩国) in Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県). Built in the year 1673, this bridge is a symbol of royalty and romanticism of Japan. It is situated on the footstep of Mt. Yokoyama (横山), whose top has one of the 100 great castles of Japan, the Iwakuni Castle (岩国城).

    Kintai Bridge used to be a part of the old castle that has been demolished during the Tokugawa Shogunate. It used to be the main entrance of that castle. It has five wooden arches on four stone piers and two wooden piers.

    Although the bridge was originally built to be durable, it was prone to disasters. The wooden five-arch structure was designed to allow commuters to pass by without worrying about the rising water levels during rainy seasons. It was built as part of the town planning to connect two separate districts on the either sides of the river.

    Since its made of wood, the bridge used to be very weak at the bottom. It has been damaged several times due to floods caused by the Nishiki River (錦川) on which it is built on. However, the bridge was redesigned with stone piers to have more strength. It was also made sure that the wooden pathway would be safe from floods by using mortise and tenon joints. Metal blades were also used to give advanced strength to this bridge.

    Kintai Bridge is definitely one of the most architecturally brilliant bridges in entire Japan. Although it has been redesigned over time, it still remains perfectly in shape. The arch-shaped spans of the bridge are lit every evening after sunset, making it even enticing and romantic. Additionally, there are efforts being made to make this bridge a World Heritage Site.

    Kintai Bridge Website

    These are three architecturally amazing and beautiful bridges in Japan to see or drive over. There are many similar bridges or flyovers in Japan such as the Great Seto Bridge (瀬戸大橋), Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge (来島海峡大橋), and others. However, Eshima Ohashi, Akashi-Kaikyo, and Kintai are considered to be the most attractive connecting structures not only in Japan but also in the whole world according to many sources. Do pay a visit to these places when you are traveling in Japan.

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