Island hopping via a bridge you can see from space
The Seto Ohashi bridge system is an incredible architectural feat that spans the Seto Inland Sea in japan. It is the world’s longest two-tiered bridge system and is even visible from space. The construction of this bridge took a decade to complete and it connects Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture on Honshu with five islands by both road and rail, ending up in the city of Sakaide on Shikoku.
The Seto Ohashi bridge is not just a means of transportation, but also a symbol of Japan’s engineering prowess and innovation. It is a testament to the country’s commitment to connecting its islands and promoting economic growth and development in the region. The bridge has become an iconic landmark and a major tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world.
One of the main highlights of the Seto Ohashi bridge is its location in Kurashiki, which is known as Japan’s denim capital. The Kurashiki side of the bridge is home to the Bikan Historical Quarter, which is famous for its willow tree-lined canal and beautiful Edo period architecture. Visitors can stroll through the quaint streets of this historical quarter, admiring the traditional buildings and soaking in the rich history and culture of the area.
Another must-visit attraction in Kurashiki is the Ohara Museum of Art. This museum houses a collection of European and Japanese impressionist and neoclassical works, making it a paradise for art enthusiasts. The museum showcases the works of renowned artists such as El Greco, Gauguin, Monet, and many others. It is a true gem for art lovers and a cultural hub in the region.
To get to the Seto Ohashi bridge and the Kurashiki area, visitors can take a shinkansen to Okayama Station and then transfer to regular JR trains to JR Kojima Station. From Kojima Station, they can take the JR Seto-Ohashi Line to reach the bridge. To access the bridge, they can take the Shimotsui Dentetsu Line Shimotsui Loop Bus from JR Kojima Station and get off at the Washuzan Second Observatory stop.
Before crossing the bridge, it is highly recommended to explore the Kojima area in Kurashiki, which is known as the jeans capital of Japan. This area is famous for its custom-made denim clothing and visitors can find expertly crafted denim on display in numerous storefronts along Jeans Street. It is a paradise for denim lovers and a great place to shop for unique and high-quality denim products.
Kurashiki’s canal area is another must-visit spot. The old warehouses and merchant homes along the canal have been converted into inns, shops, bars, restaurants, and other outlets. Visitors can take a boat ride along the Kurashiki River during the daytime and admire the charming scenery. The canal area is a perfect blend of history, culture, and modern amenities, offering a unique experience for visitors.
On the Okayama side of the bridge, there is the Washuzan highland district, which is known for its Brazil-themed amusement park. This district also offers a free observation deck where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the bridge and the surrounding seascape. It is a great spot to take in the magnificent span of the Seto Ohashi bridge and appreciate the engineering marvel.
If you have the opportunity to drive across the Seto Ohashi bridge or are on a tour that makes stops, it is highly recommended to visit one of the five islands that act as stepping stones across the Seto Inland Sea. Each island has its own unique attractions and charm, offering visitors a chance to explore the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region. These islands are like hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
On the Shikoku side of the bridge, the city of Sakaide is the final stop. Sakaide is home to the Seto Ohashi Memorial Museum, which tells the history of the construction of the great bridge. It is a fascinating museum that offers insights into the engineering challenges and triumphs of building such a massive structure. In addition, Sakaide is also known for its two temples, Shiromine and Tenno, which are part of Shikoku’s famous 88-temple pilgrimage. These temples are distinctive and offer a serene and spiritual atmosphere for visitors.
For art enthusiasts, the Kagawa Prefectural Higashiyama Kaii Setouchi Art Museum is a must-visit attraction. This museum showcases the work of one of Japan’s finest artists, Kaii Higashiyama. Kaii was a prominent figure in 20th-century Japanese art and his creations have garnered public recognition and national acclaim. The museum holds regular themed exhibitions of his pieces, allowing visitors to explore the depth and beauty of his artwork. From the cafe on the second floor of the museum, visitors can enjoy an incredible panoramic view of the Seto Ohashi bridge looking from Kagawa toward Okayama.
The Seto Ohashi bridge and its surrounding areas offer a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. Whether you are interested in architecture, art, history, or simply want to admire the stunning views, this destination has something for everyone. It is a testament to human ingenuity and a symbol of Japan’s commitment to connecting its islands and promoting cultural exchange. So, don’t miss the opportunity to explore this incredible bridge system and the wonders it has to offer.
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