Akashi Kaikyo World's Longest Suspension Bridge
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge Records
In 1998, Japanese engineers broke the limits of bridge engineering after completing work on the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. It is the world’s longest suspension bridge at nearly four kilometers across. It crosses the Akashi Strait to link Kobe with Awaji Island. It is the equivalent of four Brooklyn Bridges. It is also very tall, at 928 feet, which makes it higher than any other bridge in the world. The bridge holds three world records: the tallest, longest, and most costly suspension bridge. The bridge can resist wind of up to 180mph, and it can handle magnitude 8.5 earthquakes.
Akashi Bridge Walk 1998
Before the Bridge was built, ferries took passengers across to Awaji Island. Therefore after nearly 10 years of construction, opening day April 5, 1998 marked a turning point for travel to the island of Awaji. Before the bridge was opened for traffic, on March 22, 1998 there was a bridge walk where many thousands of people crossed the bridge on foot, which connects the main island of Honshu with Shikoku. There has never been another walk since. Sadly I missed the bridge walk, however I managed to get my hands on a souvenir T-shirt from the historical day.
Technical Details of Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Location: Kobe and Awaji Japan
Starting Date: May 1988
Completion Date: April 1998
Distance: 12,828 feet
Cost: 500 Billion Yen
Things To Do At Akashi Bridge
Bridge Exhibition Center
On the Kobe side of the bridge there is a tourist information center with details of the bridge construction. However this only explained in Japanese. But there are many pictures to see of the construction process.
Maiko Marine Promenade
This is an observatory area under the bridge platform, 50 meters above the ocean. This shows an interesting view of the bridge interior. There is also a view of Akashi Strait and Osaka Bay.
Bridge World Guided Tour
The guided tour allows you to visit the top of the bridge's tower. The tour is only in Japanese. Bookings are required as it is only held twice a day Thursday to Sunday. The fully guided tour takes about 2.5 hours. It will require a lot of walking, so bring some good walking shoes. It is not cheap at a cost of 3000 yen per ticket, which can be purchased from the exhibition center.
Here is a breakdown of the tour:
There is an introduction talk in Japanese that goes for about 10 minutes. They will advise you that there are no toilets once you leave the building to go up to see the bridge view. There is a video of the bridge construction process with English subtitles that is quite interesting. The tour then goes to the museum where a guide talks about the bridge, in Japanese only. However the exhibits do have English translations.
The best part of the guided tour is the experience of walking along the framework under the bridge above the ocean, and finally the trip up to the top of one of the bridge towers. There you will experience an amazing view of the Bridge and bay area.
Except from the introductory talk at the start of the tour there is really no need to understand Japanese to enjoy oneself. It’s really all about getting to the top to see the view.
How to get to the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge Exhibition Center
The cheapest way to get to the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge Exhibiton Center by train is to take the local JR Sanyo line train from Sannomiya Station in Kobe, to Maiko Station at a cost of 300 yen and 28 minutes. This is a local train station, so make sure to catch a local train from Sannomiya, as the express train will pass straight through without stopping. Upon arrival go to the west exit, and you will see the towering bridge just a few minutes walk from the station.
If you’re looking to save money and see many interesting things along the way, the 15.4 km walk from Sannomiya Station is the best way to go. It will take 3 hours and 8 minutes. Simply follow the JR train line the entire way.
If you get off the train one stop before Maiko, at Tarumi Station, and then walk the last 2 km to the bridge you will pass by the an outlet center. This route will allow you to visit the Mitsui Outlet Park Marine Pia Kobe near Tarumi Station on the way to the bridge. Besides discount shopping, the outlet also provides a great location to get amazing photos of the bridge from a distance. Especially at dawn and dusk. Other free attractions at the outlet include street entertainment, a playground and the famous Lego Click brick store, which has many Japanese style Lego themes. Other interesting attractions nearby include Maiko Beach (great for swimming in summer), the beautiful gardens of Maiko Higashi Seaside Ryokuchi Park, Akashi Castle, Akashi Brewery and Akashi Planetarium.
Mitsui Outlet Park Tarumi Hyogo JapanClick thumbnail to view full-size
View Of Akashi Bridge From Awaji Island
There are two great views of the bridge from Awaji Island. From a small beach and another looking down on the bridge from the mountainside. The beach can be accessed on foot from the nearby ferry port. The mountainside view is a highway stop with a fantastic lookout, Ferris wheel and souvenir shop. This place gets very busy with thousands of tourists on weekends. To get to this lookout you will need to travel over the bridge by car. The bridge toll and highway fee is expensive at 2300 yen one-way. So travel with friends to reduce the cost. Even try to find friends that live on Awaji Island. Get them to pick you up. Locals get discounts on the toll to cross the bridge.
Here are two websites with information about the highway stop:
View From the Beach On Awaji IslandClick thumbnail to view full-size
View From Mountain On Awaji IslandClick thumbnail to view full-size
View Of Akashi Bridge From Toll RoadClick thumbnail to view full-size
How To Get To Awaji Island
A cheaper way to visit Awaji Island is by ferry. There is a ferry service to Iwaya Port on Awaji Island from Akashi Port on the mainland. Catch a train to JR Akashi Station on the JR Sanyo Line from Sannomiya Station Kobe for 390 yen. Then take a short walk to the port located just a few minutes walk south of JR Akashi Station. It will cost 320 yen on the slow ferry and take 24 minutes, or 450 yen on the fast Jenova Line and take 13 minutes.
There is no way to walk across the bridge for free. It’s only has access for vehicles. If you really wish to get to Awaji Island for free, hitch hike from the highway stop on the Daini-Shinmei Toll Road. Japanese truck drivers are very friendly and often carry foreigners. All highway stops are difficult to access on foot, however it is possible to walk here from the local roads, but you will require Google maps to guide you here.
Another place to catch a ride from is at the entrance to the highway at Furukawacho 2-Chome. There is a Harley Davidson Store on the left just before the entrance to the highway. If you stand here with a sign saying “Going to Awaji” you will surely be picked up. Ask someone to write it in Japanese for you. Please see the maps below to see where pickup locations are.
In summary the Akashi Kaikyo bridge is one of the most famous engineering feats and tourist attractions in Japan. It’s cheap to see and there are many other things to do in the area, therefore highly recommended.
Akashi Station Hyogo Japan
Daini-Shinmei Toll Road Highway Stop
Furukawacho 2-Chome Highway Entrance
Have you been to see the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge?
© 2015 Dave