Akashi Strait - Kobe and Matsuho, Japan

All photos by Patrick S. O'Donnell. Please do not reuse without permission. Patrick visited the bridge (March, 1998) a few weeks before the official grand opening. Patrick's comments and insights accompany each picture.

"View from one of the 3 roundtrip ferry trips I took on a late afternoon before sunset. You can put nearly all the Verrazano Narrows (mainspan and both side spans) between towers on the Akashi Kaikyo bridge. This is easily from as far away as the Staten Island Ferry is from the Verrazano Narrows, only this ferry goes directly under the far (Awaji) side span."


"View from the Awaji end of the bridge on the last morning in Japan. There's a park here with items used in the construction of the bridge on display as well as other interesting pieces [more pictures of the park later]."


"Taken several days earlier during the bridge walk. Location is just a few hundred yards from previous photo."


"From the Akashi (Kobe) end of the bridge - the end most would be approaching the bridge from for the first time. Within the girder visible in the upper right corner are the 'viewing facilities' that are accessed from within the anchorage. There are gift shops and a restaurant up there as well. This is as close as you can get to actually stepping foot on the bridge. These facilities were not open yet at the time of my visit, nor were the actual Visitors Center on terra firma just a few yards from where this shot was taken."


"In the distance under the side span here on the far side across the Akashi Strait is the rest area on the highway leading to/from the bridge. There are many bridge related items there. This was also the turnaround point of the bridge walk for those wishing to walk back. A ferry option was available as it was 8 kilometers one way. Basically the walk started from this end of the bridge near where this photo was taken."


"Probably taken on the last of the three ferry trips from near the ferry dock on the Awaji side. The tower across the strait is another tourist attraction that was here long before the bridge. There's a wheel/doughnut that you ride in that goes to the top - about 330' or about 1/3 the height of the Akashi Kaikyo's towers. Good views from here of the bridge as it gets you just above roadway level. This attraction was closed for renovations during my visit. I didn't have much luck with the tourist trap attractions."


"Lots of shipping occurs here. If I remember correctly something like 1,400 vessels a day pass under the bridge. Constructing the bridge like the Verrazano Narrows, from mid-span out, was not feasible so they went outward from the towers."



"This one was taken on the first ferry trip over. This is one of my favorite shots of the bridge. The weather varied from day to day and during the course of the day. It seems like there were no two visits alike to the Akashi Kaikyo during my week in Japan."


"Looking across while approaching the underside of the Awaji side span. You may notice the small fishing boat that appears at the base of the tower in some of the pictures already. Must be good fishing here as I'll have more shots later of the base with fishing boats present."


"Taken from that highway rest area that served as the celebration area and turnaround point/terminus of the bridge walk. From here it was just a few minutes walk down to the ferry for those not wanting to walk back another 5 miles. This photo would have to be the best I have from the vantage point of trying to include both anchorages from as far perpendicular as I can get. It's obvious I was unsuccessful as the near-side anchorage is not visible.

"I mentioned earlier about fitting nearly all of the Verrazano Narrows 6,690 feet of suspended spans between the Akashi Kaikyo's towers spaced at 6,532 feet. You can definitely put the Golden Gate's total suspended spans of 6,450 feet between there. Combined, the Golden Gate and Verrazano Narrrows are 13,140 feet (anchorage-to-anchorage) . The Akashi Kaikyo alone is 12,832 feet (anchorage-to-anchorage), so the entire Akashi Kaikyo is just a football field shy of encompassing all the suspended spans of both the Golden Gate and Verrazano Narrows."


"Shot from a few hundred yards closer to the bridge than the previous photo. I don't remember if it was on the way over or on the way back when I took it. At the time of the commencement of the Akashi Kaikyo's construction, the bridge with the longest total (anchorage-to-anchorage) suspended spans was the Mackinac Bridge - 7,400 feet - still several hundred feet longer than that of the Humber Bridge. The Akashi Kaikyo blew away the Mackinac by the proverbial mile, literally. 5,432 feet to be exact."


"Awaji Tower with Awaji Side Span to right. The tower's foundation is about 33 feet above average high tide. It dwarfs that fishing boat."


"Same tower, just a minute later. Every reference I've viewed on this bridge's tower height indicates 975 feet being the height given. Several images show that 975 feet being where the centerline of the cable passes over the tower. Back in 1998 I finally contacted somebody at the Honshu Shikoku Bridge Authority to find out how much further the towers extend above the main cables. I had my suspicions confirmed; it's over 1,000 feet (1,003) to the water below even at average high tide. They obviously take the conservative approach and are more technical with where they put their tower height. Realistically not much is needed in height above the main cable. Compare the Verrazano Narrows with the Golden Gate and you see what I'm referring to. Decoration and housing of mechanical equipment (monitors and elevator apparatus) are the reasons some bridges towers extend above where the main cable passes through them."


"I included this shot to show that it wasn't all sunny skies and cheery during my visits. At least I didn't experience rain, but this was close! It amazes me how the color of this bridge changes."


"What I'd give to be able to climb the main cable and walk up one of these stairways leading to the entrance of the tower. Naturally such a visit would have to include a tour of the tower top and anchorage."




"Awaji Tower during the bridge walk. The throngs of bridge walkers can be viewed here on the bridge. This is what I remember the Akashi Kaikyo's true color being - a sand green."


"Shot about a few hours later than the previous photo at the end of my bridge walk."


"The Akashi side span. 3,150 feet! There are only about a dozen suspension bridges with main spans exceeding this. The side spans on the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge even surpass that of the leading main span of the next closest bridge type - the Tatara Cable-Stayed Bridge with a mainspan of 2,920 feet. The Humber had the next closest side span length at 1,739 feet, and that was just one side span as the other is considerably shorter."



"Under the Awaji Side Span. The foundation is 262 feet in diameter and is about 200 feet to the sea bottom."


"Coming out from under the Awaji side span."


"Set back further under the Awaji side span than that of the previous two photos"


"One of my favorites of this group."


"This image shows nearly 400 feet of suspended deck. The truss is 46 feet thick (deep). That measurement is from the centerlines of both the top and bottom girder members. The panels are nearly square and with 8 of them pictured here gives a total length just shy of 400 feet. A football field with end zones can easily be placed up there in this photo."


"Another image showing a section of the Awaji side span. This one is almost 11 panels - close to a tenth of a mile in length pictured up there. The side spans are composed of 66 panels each, thus just one-sixth of the of the side span is photographed in this image."


"Less than one-third of the main span is captured here in this photo of the middle of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. Of the main span's 140 panels, there are 42 panels shown in this picture. I figure that's about 1,960 feet of main span. The section of main span shown in this image is close to the equivalent of what this bridge surpassed the Humber's mainspan by. Certainly what's not shown is a bit greater than that of the Verrazano Narrows. The buoy is the center channel marker."


"The Awaji Anchorage. Here you can appreciate that 46-foot deep stiffening truss. Surrounding the anchorage is a park with a bridge-related theme. You may notice a section of tower placed up on end between the building at far left and the anchorage."


"Shot shortly after stepping onto the suspended section of the Akashi Kaikyo during the bridge walk. This is where the main cable enters the Akashi anchorage. The tower of that tourist attraction ride is easily visible."


"At the start after stepping onto the Akashi Side Span. This direction is looking to the Southeast - not a good direction to be shooting in the morning."


"Now under the Akashi Tower looking back where I had just come from. That's 3150 feet of suspended side span in this shot."


"Now at midspan. This is as far away from a support as you can get in this world, now being nearly 5/8 of a mile from either tower."


"A bit further across the main span than where the previous shot was taken. The distance between lights is the equivalent to two panels, or about 93 feet. I like these lights as they appear pretty sleek and unobtrusive."


"Now on my way back later in the afternoon. There were welcome banners and the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge sign at the start this morning at the other end of the bridge."



"Myself at midspan. Tripods weren't permitted up on the bridge, so I had to motion to somebody to take my picture. More than once I was approached by a Japanese person motioning me to take a picture with their camera. Other Japanese knew enough English to ask. The cloth thing I'm wearing is what permitted you on the bridge. Well organized so that not everybody shows up at once - my time to arrive was 10am as indicated by the '10' on the cloth. March 21 is represented by 3/21. 98 is somewhere on there."


"Hiroshima Atomic Dome. The epitome of contrasts exists between my being here at the original ground zero just 24 hours after standing at midspan of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. Construction over destruction. I believe I've read that a quarter million people have perished as a result of the bomb that was dropped here. 80,000 instantly, 80,000 within a few days as a result of injuries, and 80,000+ over the years since as a result of the radiation/cancer. I can't help but think that there were 80,000 permitted to do the Akashi Kaikyo Bridgewalk each of several days it was held. The nuclear weapons of today would make those dropped on Japan look like a firecracker. As an American here I wasn't made to feel awkward. I was approached by an obviously educated young Japanese adult and asked what my impression of all this were. We talked for about 5 minutes. I was taken aback when he asked If I knew why America dropped the bomb. My reply was "to bring a quick end to the war with minimal casualties to us." He added that the Japanese were so determined that they would've fought till the last one. Then he said something to the effect that that may have been good as he himself wouldn't be here now if his grandfather were forced to fight. Hopefully I left him with the impression that America doesn't hate people - just the government that they didn't freely elect in the first place."


Tatara Bridge. I was standing at midspan of the world's longest cable-stayed bridge just 24 hours before standing at midspan of the World's longest suspension bridge.



"I decided to stray from the Bridge Walk route on the way back and go up into the nearby hill to try to get photos from another vantage point. The next two pictures are on the way up. The two following pictures are while as far up as was worthwhile. If you look closely in the first three pictures you can make out the welcome banner and Akashi Kaikyo Bridge sign."





"Back down on the bridge on the way back across. Here I'm about halfway across the Awaji side span."


"Zoomed from the same location as the previous shot. I just like how you cannot see the lower portion of the bottom cross bracing of the far tower due to the distance and of the arching roadway."


"Just past the Awaji tower looking back. It was only a 15-minute walk from where the previous two pictures were taken. Look how much the weather has changed. That's the one thing I remembered about Japan - how the weather can get so gloomy so quickly. I like this picture for how the tower's legs partially frame this shot. You can see where I went up into the hill if you look at the center of the image, between the main cables. It was at the top of that cut before entering the trees."


"The Akashi tower - now into the final turn. Obviously the Bridge Walk was nearing it's end this day as there is nobody on the other side of the bridge. The earliest time I viewed on anybody's cloth was 8am. The latest was 12pm. It was about 4:30 at this point."


"Same tower. Not the greatest shots due to how miserable the skies where. It definitely doesn't show what I believe to be the true color of the bridge."



"A cable clamp. Again darker than appreciated. It appears this type of cable clamp is the preferred method in recent years as the East Bridge has this type as well. It's not the typical 'suspenders drape over' type."


"This cable sample is located at that rest area on the Awaji side that served as the turn around point of the Bridge Walk. These were all taken then. I did see one of these cable samples on the Akashi side, but it was fenced off near the Bridge Visitors Center that was nearing completion."



"Here's the translation of the plaque:"


"During my last visit to the bridge on that last morning in Japan I visited a park on the Awaji side that surrounds the Awaji anchorage. This park bench is modeled to the exact size of the main cable. The bars represent the strands and are to scale."


"A 'slice' of the tower placed up on end."


"The McDonalds next to the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge on the Akashi end. This picture was taken from a point that is nearly equidistant from the two, with my back to the Akashi anchorage."



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