Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

Last weekend was a 3-day weekend, due to some national holiday on Saturday. First time to not work on Saturday, felt quite weird! Yasu and I used the opportunity to go on a little vacation to Awaji Island near Kobe. You guys probably no idea what island I’m talking about so I included the map below. My Inuyama apartment is located somewhere around that yellow star and Awaji can be found in the green circle.

To get from Honshu (the largest island of Japan) to Awaji we had to cross the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, otherwise known as the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge has three spans. The central span is 1991 meters long and the other two other sections are each 960 meters long, so the bridge is 3,911 meters long overall. The central span was originally only 1,990 meters, but the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 moved the two towers so that the length of the central span had to be increased by 1 meter (only the towers had been erected at the time).

The drive over the bridge was very beautiful with an awesome view of Awaji and an up-close look of the impressive structure that is the bridge. The bridge has 6 lanes of roadway and like all highways in Japan you have to pay toll to drive it. And you’d think it might be worth it because at least you can go fast on the highway and get to your destination quicker. Well, forget about it because the speed limit in Japan is 80 km per hour! Needless to say, the number of speeding Japanese drivers in uncountable.

Once we got to Awaji we took a rest (actually just Yasu, as he was doing all the driving) at the Awaji Highway Oasis. I’m not sure why they named it an oasis, but it was a nice spot to look at the giant bridge, which seemed kind of unreal from there, like you were looking at a huge painting or something.

There was also a huge Ferris wheel, from which one could probably appreciate the view even more, but I didn’t feel particularly comfortable getting into such a small compartment and being transported up into the sky while being in an earthquake prone country. So I chose to enjoy the view of the bridge and the Ferris wheel from the (relatively) stable ground, I wonder when the whole earthquake idea will stop freaking me out… Every time the Shinkansen (bullet train) shakes or the floor in my apartment moves I brace myself for the big ass earthquake people have been expecting for years now.

We were hungry so we did make use of the Oasis’ lunch facilities. After standing in line for about half an hour (Japanese people are so good at queuing it just makes me impatient) we could sit down with a nice view of the bridge and enjoy a very Japanese lunch.

I love sashimi, sushi not so much because of the vinegar they put in the rice, but the shrimp sashimi was pretty nasty, it tasted like a big booger. The rest of the sashimi was delicious, especially the salmon and the clams, and of course they were fished up out of the Akashi Strait, which we could see out of the window, or at least that’s what they told us.

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