Seto Ohashi Bridge

Connecting Honshu to Shikoku

By Kenji Chida    - 2 min read

The Seto Ohashi was completed in 1988 and is still the world’s longest two-tiered bridge, accommodating both cars and trains. The first time I saw it with my own eyes it felt like that scene in the movie Gladiator when the fighters came to Rome for the first time. "I didn't know man could build such things".

Actually, the story goes that the bridge was built to connect Honshu to Shikoku to avert the loss of life caused by the sometimes treacherous Seto Inland Sea weather. Many locals have told me that the sinking of the Shiun Maru in the Seto Inland Sea, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of elementary and junior high school students, pushed the Japanese government to connect the major islands by bridge or tunnel no matter what the cost.

The bridge is a portal with off-ramps that allow you to explore some of the islands that form its foundation. I took an hour long cruise around the Seto Inland Sea to one such island which also had souvenir shops and a go-kart course. On the Okayama side there is a popular lookout area with a good view of the bridge.

During my first time there I just happened to meet a retired Japanese couple and it turned out that the husband had been an engineer on the bridge. He was in town to visit as if it were a family member in another prefecture. According to him, like in the construction of the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China, families were uprooted and relocated to complete the Great Bridge.

There are still ferries that take passengers and vehicles from Okayama to Shikoku but the burden of moving people has shifted to the Seto Ohashi.

During the day the bridge impressively curves through the sea elegantly and at night is illuminated like a runway to Shikoku or a dragon with its legs half submerged. There are tour buses and local buses that will take you to the bridge but most important of all, don’t forget your camera!

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Kenji Chida

Kenji Chida @kenji.chida

I was born and raised in Baltimore City, Maryland in the USA after which I moved to New York City at the age of 21. I lived, studied and worked in New York for five years then moved to Okayama in 1998 at the age of 26. After living in Japan for 5 years I decided to try to naturalize. I was granted Japanese citizenship at the age of 33. I am interested in education, political philosophy, and Japanese society. I enjoy playing softball with my kids, driving and motorcycles. I can't say I enjoy running but I often join local 5k races. I want more people from abroad to come to Japan for a visit and I hope that some portion of that group decides to stay. Japan is for everyone!

Join the discussion

inasen 7 years ago
I wasn't not know Seto Ohashi Bridge has such history, I have crossed the bridge by bus and shinkansen many times. The view crassing the bridge is very beautihul.You can look large and biue sea. I want to look the view when I cross the Seto Ohashi Bridge.
mimuti309 7 years ago
I have acrossed the Seto Ohashi Bridge on my father's car.
Then,I was impressed with the beauty of the its view.
Besides,it plays an important role in our daily life.
It's indispensable for our life.
natsumi 7 years ago
Seto Ohashi Bridge is one of my favorite places in Okayama. When I was elementary school student,I have been to there many times. Seto Ohashi Bridge is very big and forceful. I want go to there again.
arthur 7 years ago
I have gone to Seto Ohashi Bridge whem I was 12 years old.I rememvered that when I wentto Seto Ohashi Bridge.I think,it is very beautiful that landscape at dusk from Seto Ohashi Bridge.I had no camera when Iwent to there.So the next time I go to there,I will prepare the my camera.
maimai 7 years ago
I did not know The Seto Ohashi Bridge was completed in 1988 and is still the world's longest two-tiered bridge,accommodating both cars and trains. I was surprised about this thing. Probably,I went to Seto Ohashi Bridge at I was a little child. But I do not remember it. So,I want to go Seto Ohashi Bridge with my friends. The sea elegantly and illumination is very fascinating! Surely,Ithink I'll enjoy it.