An Experience That Can Only Be Had on Awaji Island: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge Climbing Tour

Many people who come to Awaji Island for sightseeing would like to experience and see scenery that can only be seen here. “The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge World”, a climbing tour of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, is perfect for such visitors. It has been 25 years since the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge was built. This tour is a rare opportunity to be guided directly by the engineers who were actually involved in the construction of the bridge. They were young when they were building the bridge. They are all great engineers whom Japan can be proud of. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge was built with the aim of maintaining the bridge for more than 200 years. I would like to introduce to you a unique experience of Hyogo’s charm and terroir travel.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge World Tour from Awaji Island

This is a moving tour that takes you to the main tower, which is about 300 meters above sea level, through a maintenance passageway that is normally inaccessible to public, to experience a 360° panoramic view. Visitors can enjoy the inside of the bridge and the spectacular view from the top, as well as interesting information about the difficulties faced during the construction period which only those who experienced the construction can tell you, and the ingenious technology used to maintain the world’s largest suspension bridge.

The Unique Terroir Experience of Hyogo Prefecture on Awaji Island

Meeting Place is “Rest Stop Awaji”

The entrance is a huge pillar standing at both ends of the bridge called the anchorage on the Awaji side. When the reception starts, the shutters will open and you will be led inside.

The Anchorage is right next to the parking at Rest Stop Awaji.
The reception for this tour is beyond the arrow mark.

You are seated according to the seating chart with your name written on it. The tour leader introduces the tour, divides the group, and explains precautions for the tour. This time, the tour was almost full. There were a variety of participants, some alone, some with their families, and some with friends. The tour takes about 2 hours, but there are no restrooms along the way, so be sure to use them beforehand. You will also be told to strap everything around your neck or store it in the jackets that are rented, as a fall of anything from the bridge could result in a serious accident. Luggage can be left at the briefing site, but less is better. If you do not have a strap for your phone, a rental strap was provided. We recommend that you wear clothes that are comfortable to move and shoes that are easy to walk such as sneakers. It may be windy depending on the season, so it may be a good idea to wear a windbreaker or something similar. Original gloves and a small walkie-talkie & earphone for listening to explanations are also provided. You do not need to bring anything in particular except a smartphone or camera for taking pictures. Follow the guide and depart. First, there are 171 steps (about 40 meters) you have to climb to the bridge girder.

1 km on The Wire Mesh of The bridge Girder

Once you ascend the stairs, you will enter a maintenance corridor. The mesh-like wire netting is 40 meters above the surface of the sea. This is the reason why we were told that those who are afraid of heights can cancel the tour even now. The suspension bridge is a little shaky because of the high-speed cars passing above. The suspension bridge is intentionally shaking to release the force.

Boats sailing by can also be seen from above. The ocean extends on both sides as well. You can enjoy a special aerial walk while feeling the wind. Take your time while listening to the detailed explanation on the walkie-talkie.

Our tour leader

Even though the iron wire mesh is exposed to the sea breeze, it has been kept for 25 years without being repainted once thanks to a special six-layer coating. The surface of the wire mesh is fluorine coated. I was surprised at the advanced technology. You can also see from the inside the ingenuity of the wind-absorbing structure that can withstand the speed of typhoon winds. The 1991-meter-long suspension bridge was completed despite being hit by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake just before its completion. The earthquake caused the ground to move 1 m from the original plan, resulting in a length of 1,991 m. The engineers involved in the construction of the bridge were personally responsible for the construction of the bridge. It was impressive that the engineers involved in its construction themselves called it a “miracle bridge.
The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is also connected to a large water pipe, and the opening of this bridge saved the lifeline for the people of Awaji Island, who were suffering from chronic water shortages. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge also carries high-voltage power lines and high-capacity communication cables, making it not only a convenient means of transportation, but also an important piece of infrastructure. We can learn more about the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, and think about the hard work of the 2.1 million people who were involved in its construction. I would like to pass through the bridge with gratitude.

The construction cost was about 500 billion yen and took 10 years. A total of 2.1 million people were involved in the construction, yet there were no fatal accidents. The economic effect of the opening of the bridge was about 2.4 trillion yen in 2018 (a single year), of which the effect for the Shikoku region is about 0.9 trillion yen, equivalent to about 6% of the total production of the Shikoku region. The total effect nationwide over the 31 years from 1988, when the Seto-Chuo Expressway opened to traffic, to 2018 is approximately 41 trillion yen.

The high speed buses to and from Awaji Island are characterized by their easy accessibility, with the Kosoku Maiko bus stop directly connected to the railroad station, and the large number of services (approximately 300 on any given day), many of which go to Kobe and Sannomiya. As a result, commuting to and from Hyogo Prefecture from Awaji Island is now well established. The bridge is truly the pride of Japan. Awaji Island receives approximately 12 million tourists every year. With the opening of the bridge, tourism has flourished and the island has become one of the leading resort areas in the Kansai region.

Panoramic View of Kobe and Awaji Island After Walking 1 km and Taking the Elevator to 300 m Above The Ground

The elevator ride takes about 2 minutes and finally takes you to the top of the bridge. You can stay for about 15 minutes. You can take a commemorative photo, ask questions to the engineers, enjoy the panoramic view, or spend your time as you wish.

The summit is a little less scary with some walls.
There are holes in the wall to peak into.
The cars look so small.
You can see this view when you stand on tiptoe even if you are not tall enough. A small platform was also provided at the top.

The engineer who spoke to us was also involved in the Naruto Kaikyo Bridge. Each group took a commemorative photo at the top of the bridge, which was made into a certificate and given to the group on the way back.

Once we were on the ground and relieved, we were suddenly hungry. The morning tour is the perfect pre-lunch activity; it is offered twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. Be sure to make your reservations early to enjoy the tour.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge World Tour Overview

The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge World Tour in 2023 will be held on the days designated by Honshihi Kosoku out of Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays until November. Please check the official website.
Morning Registration: 9:30-9:45 Tour: 9:45-11:45
Afternoon Registration: 13:05-13:20 Tour: 13:20-15:20

Adult: Weekdays 5,000 yen/person and Weekends & Holidays 6,000 yen
Junior High School Students: Weekdays 2,500 yen/person and Weekends & Holidays 3,000 yen
*Please be sure to bring your student ID book

Participation is limited to junior high school students and older who can walk at least 2 km on their own.