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Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge Tour: Vibrant Views From the World’s Longest Suspension Bridge!

Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge Tour: Vibrant Views From the World’s Longest Suspension Bridge!

Date published: 20 February 2020
Last updated: 22 February 2021

The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is a suspension bridge about four kilometers long linking Kobe City and Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture. The distance between the two main towers standing in the Akashi Strait is 1,991 meters and is famous for being the longest in the world!

Did you know that there is a tour that enables you to experience the size of the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge? Not only can you walk along part of the bridge, but you can also go up to the top of one of the main 300-meter high towers. 300 meters is the same height as Tokyo Tower! Read on to learn more about the great panorama awaiting you at the top.

Table of Contents
  1. Join the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge World Tour for a unique experience!
  2. Incredibly stunning panorama! The view from the top of the main tower
  3. Scenic spots for viewing the bridge from below
  4. Don’t miss the beautiful sunset at Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

Join the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge World Tour for a unique experience!

Normally the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is only open to vehicular traffic, but if you join the Bridge World sightseeing tour, you can walk along the lower deck of the bridge for about one kilometer and then go up to the top of the main tower on the Kobe side from where you can enjoy the magnificent view.

▲ View of Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge from the Kobe side. The two towers rising up towards the sky are very impressive. In the foreground is JR Maiko Station, the closest station, and Awaji Island can be seen beyond the bridge.

Tours are held Thursday through Sunday and on holidays between April 1 and November 30 every year. There are two tours a day, one in the morning (from 9:30 a.m.) and the other in the afternoon (from 1:30 p.m.), each lasting about two hours and 40 minutes. The fee is 3,000 yen for adults and 1,500 yen for junior high school age (tax included in both fees). It is possible to sign up either online, by telephone, or by FAX (tours are limited to 42 people and are selected in the order in which they signed up).

Incidentally, one of the conditions for participating in the Bridge World tour is that participants must be junior high school aged or older and junior high school-aged children must be accompanied by an adult. Another condition is that participants must be able to walk two kilometers and be able to go up and down stairs without the use of walking aids. And most important of all, participants should not have a fear of heights. This writer did not think he had a fear of heights, but even so, it was a bit daunting.

▲The meeting place is the Bridge Exhibition Center which stands at the base of the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. It is about 5 minutes on foot from JR Maiko Station, Sanyo Electric Railway Maiko Park Station, and the Maiko Express Bus stop.

After checking in on the second floor of the Bridge Exhibition Center, proceed to the room where the Bridge World tour participants gather (the cost of the tour is included in the admission fee to the Bridge Exhibition Center). Here you will be told what you need to be aware of when taking the tour. Also, you are given an earphone/mic used to communicate with the guide, a safety strap, and a helmet before for starting the tour.

▲There were 41 participants on this day. Almost twenty percent of the participants these days are visitors from overseas.
▲ The many windows in this room offer a good view of the broad sea and Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge.

Now it’s time to head out! In addition to the single guide you are also accompanied by a number of assistants to ensure your safety.

Before heading to the bridge, you will be taken down to the exhibition room on the first floor of the Bridge Exhibition Center for an explanation by the guide about how the bridge was built.

▲The model bridge displayed below the ceiling is a 1/100 scale model that was used in wind tunnel experiments before the bridge was constructed.

Construction of the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge connecting Kobe City and Awaji Island began in May of 1986. Akashi Strait is famous for its fast tidal currents. It is also a strategic transportation route taken by about 1,400 ships each day, including supertankers and cruise ships, that enter the harbors of Osaka and Kobe. The guide explained that work was done on the bridge while ships passed below it.

Under these circumstances, round concrete foundations for the main towers were embedded in the 60-meter deep water, cables were strung between the main towers, and strong steel girders for the vehicular roads were installed. The construction took about ten years.

It is amazing to imagine how construction went on under such difficult conditions as fighting against strong tidal currents and the continuous passing of ships below.

▲“The main tower bases are enormous, with a diameter of 80 meters and a height of 70 meters. They were built on the seabed 60 meters below the surface. One certainly gets the feeling that the foundation was driven into the bedrock of the earth,” the guide explained.

There are three routes connecting Honshu and Shikoku and each consists of a number of bridges straddling islands in the Inland Sea. The Innoshima Bridge was the first suspension bridge built in the Inland Sea when it was constructed in 1983 and today it is part of the Shimanami Kaido [Sea Route]. After that the Great Seto Bridge was completed in 1988, connecting Honshu and Shikoku by land for the first time.

"Each time a bridge was built, safe and efficient construction methods were studied. Then in 1998 Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, proudly the world's longest suspension bridge, was completed," the guide went on to explain.

In fact, the assistant staff members accompanying the tour, including the guide, were also some of those who were actually involved in the construction of the bridge. You could feel the pride in his voice during his calm presentation.

▲That construction on a scale of this size was undertaken 20 years ago is quite impressive and further heightens the anticipation of the tour awaiting you.

So without further ado, head out to the bridge. You will take the Maiko Marine Promenade which was built inside the girders of the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge.

▲Heading to the Maiko Marine Promenade you approach the Anchorage, a towering concrete structure shown in the left of the photo. The Anchorages serve as huge concrete weights that firmly secure both ends of the main cables.

The general public can enter the Maiko Marine Promenade for a fee (250 yen for adults; 300 yen on Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays. No charge for elementary school age and younger. Taxes are included in both fares and the fares are included in the cost of the tour). Going inside the bridge from the Anchorage and passing along the promenade in the bridge the spectacular view of Osaka Bay and the Inland Sea, as well as the Akashi Strait stretching out below one's feet, come into view.

▲The passageway in the Maiko Marine Promenade. From here only tour participants are allowed to proceed to the next area.
▲ Exiting the corridor you go down a narrow staircase to the passage called the Wide Management Route in the lower part of the bridge.
▲You get quite a thrilling view when you look off to the side of the Wide Management Route.
▲The Wide Management Route is about 45 meters above the sea surface. You can see through the metal grating of the floor. The grating minimizes the effect of wind blowing on the bridge.

This goes in the direction of Awaji Island and the main tower is about a 1-kilometer walk away.

▲This is the view when you look up. Even those who feel a bit afraid get accustomed to it while walking. When a vehicle passes over connection points in the road above the ceiling, it produces a thumping sound.
▲ A maintenance vehicle passing along the Wide Management Route! About 20 days of each month are dedicated to inspecting places in the bridge. The Wide Management Route is for maintenance vehicles like this.

Awaji Island on the other side often suffered from shortages of water in the summer. However, since the bridge was completed a stable supply of water has been supplied from Honshu eliminating such worry now.

▲Water pipes and power cables run through the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge.

You have now arrived at the main tower on the Kobe side! The bridge is gently elevated towards the middle, and this area is about 65 meters above the sea. From here you will enter the main tower and an elevator will take you briskly up the 284 meters to the top.

▲The interior is narrow because the structure was originally designed for work. But this only increases the excitement of being able to enter into a special area.
▲The inside of the main tower is divided into a number of levels like in a building. “Actually where we are now is the 17th floor. From here it will take only about two minutes to reach the 98th floor,” the guide explained.

And in no time at all you are there! Taking the stairs up one more floor you come to a sliding door in the ceiling. Go through it and you have reached the top of the tower.

▲Now it is time to see the spectacular view that awaits you on the other side of the door!

Incredibly stunning panorama! The view from the top of the main tower

A view so stunning it is almost blinding awaits you here 300 meters above the sea!

▲That is the Kobe side. On the right side is the Suma Coast of Kobe and on the left side is the city of Akashi which borders Kobe.
▲That is the Awaji Island side. From here you can see the other main tower. A ship can be seen passing below the bridge.
▲Looking directly down you can see trucks and cars going across the bridge. They seem incredibly small! You can see the round foundation of the main tower below the road.

You can also take videos from the main tower.

▲This space will probably convey sensations that photos cannot!

▲ The completely different landscapes of the Awaji Island side and Kobe side are stunning (this is the Kobe side).

▲ The place where we are standing is 289 meters above sea level and the highest point just beyond where we are standing is 306 meters above sea level. These main towers supporting the suspension bridge are also the world’s tallest! (As of September 2018).
▲Kobe direction. The time you can spend at the top of the tower is about 15 minutes, so the whole time will probably be spent taking photos and videos!
▲If the air is clear, you can also see Abeno Harukas in the city of Osaka (to the east), Kansai International Airport (to the south), and Shodoshima (to the west).
▲The diameter of the thick cables supporting the bridge is 1.1 meters. The bridge is supported by cables packed with bundles of high-strength zinc steel wires.

When seen up close, the thickness of the main cables is truly amazing.

“If anything goes wrong with the cables, it would be the end of the bridge. For that reason they are continuously being maintained to prevent damage and rust to them. The goal is to keep them maintained so that they will last at least 200 more years,” the guide told us.

I was surprised to learn that the life of the bridge depended on the life of the cables. In order to prevent rusting, dry air is constantly being pumped through the inside of the main cables. Listening to the explanations of how the suspension bridge needs constant attention it seemed almost like a living thing to me.

▲Photo op in the sky! The photo taken by the guide at the top of the tower was given to each of us later together with a certificate.

Once again we boarded the elevator and descended to the Wide Management Route. We also were able to walk along the special walkway for workers that runs parallel to the Wide Management Route. It is much narrower than the other, so this is another new thrill.

▲Going along the pedestrian corridor which we did not take when coming.
▲View from the Wide Management Route of the corridor for pedestrians. Just looking at it made my heart jump.
▲One of the overseas visitors asked, “Is this for bungee jumping?” when they saw these stairs. Actually they are for boarding an inspection gondola that moves along an outer rail on the bridge.
▲We walked about one kilometer from the main tower. Going up the stairs to the passage way to the Maiko Marine Promenade.
▲The tour ends when you return to the Bridge Exhibition Center. After returning helmets and other items, get a stamp on your certificate.
▲“I walked on this bridge and climbed and stood on that main tower!” A photo of you together with the certificate makes a great souvenir.

It’s a shame that only cars can cross the bridge! The Bridge World tour that enables you to walk on the bridge above the sea and go 300 meters up a main tower where you are afforded a spectacular view is an experience you will not want to miss!

  • Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge "Bridge World" Tour
    明石海峡大橋 ブリッジワールド
    • Address [Meeting Place] Bridge Exhibition Center, 4-114, Higashimaiko-cho, Tarumi-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture
    • Phone Number 078-784-3396
    • [Open] Thursday through Sunday, national holidays between April and November
      [Hours] 9:30 a.m. ~ 12:10 p.m., 1:30 p.m. ~ 4:30 p.m. (Twice daily)
      [Cost] 3,000 yen for adults, 1,500 yen for junior high school aged children (student ID required) (tax included in both fees)
      ※ The admission fee for the Maiko Marine Promenade is included in the admission fee to the Bridge Exhibition Center
      [The Bridge Exhibition Center Secretariat is closed on Mondays between April and November (excepting holidays) and on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays between December and March

Scenic spots for viewing the bridge from below

Here are some good spots for viewing the scenery from land after you have seen them from the top of the bridge.

The Maiko Marine Promenade under the road is open to normal traffic on the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. Going along the promenade for about 150 meters towards the sea, you will come to a section where glass panels cover part of the floor.

▲The Maiko Marine Promenade entrance is just under the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. This is also a good place for taking photos.
▲Walking along the promenade can also be exciting! Try walking on the round log that goes over the center of the glass panels in the walkway! The sea is 47 meters below.

There is also a cafe inside the Maiko Marine Promenade. The view, through the many glass windows, of Kobe and the streets of Akashi as well as Osaka Bay and the Inland Sea is very refreshing.

▲Tom’s Cafe Maiko: Open 9:30 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m. (Last order 5:30 p.m.); closed the second Tuesday of the month (unless it falls on a holiday in which case it is closed the following day), and from December 29th ~ 31st
  • Maiko Marine Promenade
    • Address 2051 Higashimaiko-cho, Tarumi-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture
    • Phone Number 078-785-5090
    • [Open] 9:00 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m.; 9:00 a.m. ~7:00 p.m. During Golden Week and the summer holidays *No admission 30 minutes prior to closing
      [Admission] 250 yen for adults (300 yen on Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays), no charge for high school students and younger
      [Closed] Always open between April and September; closed the second Monday of each month between October and March (unless it falls on a holiday in which case it is closed the following day); closed December 29th ~ 31st

Maiko Park is located near the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge on the Kobe side. This is a popular place for families to relax on the grass in the evenings and on holidays and is also a popular spot with fishermen.

▲View from the park. You can see the Maiko Marine Promenade mentioned earlier this side of the bridge girders.
▲ A family watching the ships in the strait. What do you suppose they are talking about?
▲Dream Lens is a monument made to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. The view of the bridge through the donut-like opening.

The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (Ijokaku), with its unique triangular roof, is a Western-style building in the garden. It was the villa of a Kobe overseas Chinese wealthy merchant, Wú jǐn táng (Gokindo), and is currently designated as an important cultural property of the country. The historical Western-style building and bridge together make a great photo.

▲The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is unique for its three-story octagonal hall. Materials showing the achievements of Wú jǐn táng and the connection between Sun Yat-sen and Kobe are displayed (open from 10:00 a.m. To 5:00 p.m.; admission for adults is 300 yen, including tax, and there is no charge for high school aged and younger; closed on Mondays and from December 29th ~ January 3rd).
  • Hyogo Prefectural Maiko Park
    • Address 2051 Higashimaiko-cho, Tarumi-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture
    • Phone Number 078-785-5090
    • Free admission

Don’t miss the beautiful sunset at Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

The majestic view at Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is especially enjoyable in the company of family or friends, or better still, on a date.

▲Listening to the sound of the waves while enjoying the view of the sun setting behind Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is very soothing.
▲ The sunset viewed from the vicinity of the Hotel Setre Kobe Maiko adjacent to Maiko Park is very exotic.

And every night after the sun goes down the cables of the bridge are lit up until midnight. The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge appearing to rise up out of the sea in the pitch blackness of the night makes it seem vibrantly alive.

▲Illuminated Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. The small, round light visible at the lower left is the Ferris Wheel in the Awaji Service Area on the opposite shore.

The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is the first bridge in the world to install lighting equipment on its cables that can show 28 patterns of various colors of lights.

Normally only a pearl color is used, but to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its opening, until the end of October 2018 on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, other colors such as red, yellow, green, and purple were also used. This was a particularly good time to visit and take memorable photographs.

▲A passenger plane coming into land at Kobe Airport. I imagine the view from the plane must also be beautiful.

So what are your impressions? Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, the largest suspension bridge in the world, is together with its surroundings not only a joy to behold, but also offers another attraction that is highly recommended: the World Bridge tour led by a guide who actually participated in the bridge's construction.

For a thrilling experience and chance to see a truly spectacular view, why not join in the World Bridge tour someday?

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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