Favourite Places in Japan: Seto Ohashi

Continuing with my posts about my favourite places in Japan, I’m going to write a bit about Seto Ohashi (瀬戸大橋). Technically, I’m not sure whether it’s really a favourite place of mine, but it seemed easiest to place it with the other such posts. For, rather than a favourite place per se, it’s a place that I do find interesting given its scale and design.

For a bit of context, Seto Ohashi is the bridge (really a collection of bridges) that connects Honshu and Shikoku.

Here is more information about the bridge(s) from Wikipedia:

The Great Seto Bridge or Seto Ohashi Bridge (瀬戸大橋) is a series of double deck bridges connecting Okayama and Kagawa prefectures in Japan across a series of five small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Built over the period 1978–88, it is one of the three routes of the Honshū–Shikoku Bridge Project connecting Honshū and Shikoku islands and the only one to carry rail traffic. The total length is 13.1 kilometers (8.1 mi), and the longest span, the Minami Bisan-Seto Bridge, is 1,100 m (3,600 ft). Crossing the bridge takes about 20 minutes by car or train. The ferry crossing before the bridge was built took about an hour. The bridges carry two lanes of highway traffic in each direction (Seto-Chūō Expressway) on the upper deck and one railway track in each direction (Seto-Ōhashi Line) on the lower deck. The lower deck was designed to accommodate an additional set of Shinkansen tracks for a proposed extension of the Shinkansen to Shikoku.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Seto_Bridge

I crossed the bridge for the first time 30 years ago in summer 1992 and was going by car from Kyoto to, initially, Takamatsu. There are only a few things that I remember from that drive. One, it was very expensive to cross the bridge (I still have the receipts glued into a photo album). Two, there was a bit of guttering missing between sections of the bridge and I had to swerve (luckily the bridge’s capacity is such that there tends (or at least was then) to be plenty of space to quickly switch lanes) to avoid seriously damaging the car in either the hole left by the missing metal work, or on the metal work itself (which was sitting on top of the road). Third, we stopped off at the service station along the way, where I took the following picture of the bridge plan.

Getting a picture of the bridge itself when you are down at ground/sea level leads to rather uninteresting pictures, and I don’t seem to have any. Similarly, pictures from the train are not much better, as you can see from these photos from a trip I made to Shikoku in January 2020.

View from the train as it starts to cross the Seto Ohashi (heading towards Shikoku)
A view across the Seto Inland Sea as the train crosses the Seto Ohashi

One day, perhaps I will have time to stop at one of the observation points at either end of the bridge and get a proper shot of it… although checking my photo album from 1992, I see I already have some very nice postcards of it.

While getting good photos has been a challenge on the trips that I have done over the bridge, I have managed to include it in my novel FOUR and it may well make an appearance in Book 3 of the Iwakura Series too.

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