Location Name: Akashi-Kaikyo Bridgeworld 明石海峡大橋ブリッジワールド
Type: Bridge 橋
Location: Hyogo Prefecture, Honshu, JAPAN
Terminals: Tarumi Ward, Kobe / Awaji Island
My brother came to Japan a few months ago on a trip and I decided to book the Awaji Bridge tour for him. My friend and I had discussed going but never had a reason to. Having my brother in town gave us that reason. The tour costs ¥3,000 and is very thorough You are required to sign waivers, wear a helmet, headphone radio, and everything must be strapped to your body. Dropping a camera off the top of the tower will not only result breaking your camera, but also causing a car accident.
The tour meets on the Kobe side near Maiko station and begins with a lecture and video, then a guided tour of the museum. I figure this long build up to the actual tour is to help get your mind ready for the experience. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle the heights, but did was ok. One member of our group had to return early however. After a decent hike out on the catwalk installed under the road section of the bridge the tour arrives at the first tower. I was surprised to see two cars parked there for use by the bridge maintenance staff.
Since the elevator can only take up so many people at once, the tour goes up in groups. We were in the second group giving us time to watch the sea and inspect the large drying machines. Keeping the wires dry in humid Japan is a very important aspect of keeping the bridge safe and above the water. Wet wires get rusty. The elevator ride was not as claustrophobic as I thought it would be. It went by much faster than I thought it would. Walking up the stairs to the top takes about 2 hours I think the tour guide said. The elevator takes about 2 minutes.
At the top the entrance opens like the hatch in some spaceship. The initial sense of vertigo and fear was strong, but by the second or third minute I felt at ease and was able to enjoy the experience. Our tour guide was kind enough to take a photo of our group which we got a print copy of at the end of the tour. The time at the top was about 15 minutes which was more than enough to take photos and just take in the amazing views. We were lucky because elsewhere on the bridge workers were testing the lighting systems so they were on while we were on the top adding to the beauty.
The tour is well worth it and the guides have an incredible wealth of knowledge about the bridge. So much that I just tuned it out and stop trying to listen. Bridgeworld is a must for anyone living here or coming to Kansai. Check out the rest of the photos on the flickr set.
|All of the fun stuff they send you home wi|