As an island nation, bridges play an integral part in Japan's infrastructure. From Hokkaido to Okinawa, the Japanese have built some of the most beautiful bridges in the world. Of these bridges, the Great Seto Bridge is surely among the most impressive. The Seto Ohashi is actually a series of multiple bridges, but they connect together to make one amazing architectural creation.
Construction on the double-decker bridge began in the late 1970s, and took 10 years to complete. At a cost of $7 billion dollars and the lives of 13 bridge construction workers, the bridge was opened in 1988 and has been in use since that time. Aside from connecting Okayama Prefecture on Honshu and Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku, the bridge also connects several islands in the inland sea, which each have their own special sites and foods to enjoy.
Seeing as the Seto Ohashi Bridge is a double decker bridge, there are two ways to cross it. The upper level is available to cars and trucks, with a one way cost of ￥3500, though at certain times the toll is discounted. Crossing the bridge via train is much less expensive, with a one way cost of only ￥510 from Kojima Station in Okayama to Sakaide Station in Kagawa.
If you're looking for a great view of the bridge along with much of the inland sea, the best view available is from Mt. Washuzan, Kurashiki city, in Okayama Prefecture in the small port of Kojima. Visitors can drive or ride the bus up the mountain (or bike if you're up to it!) where an outdoor observatory is located. There is also a small gift shop and cafe near the observatory which can be nice on especially cold or hot days. From the observatory, there are steps which lead up to the peak of Mt. Washuzan. The peak is only about a 5 minute walk away, and offers a great view of the area in all directions. If you explore the paths around the peak, there are other views to be found which are quiet and perfect for a bite to eat or taking pictures. If you're like me, you may want to explore some of the outcroppings that are off the path a bit, but do be careful - the drops could certainly be hazardous.
Of course, there's much more to enjoy in the area aside from the bridge. From delicious okonomiyaki shops with a local flavor, to the Kojima jeans tour, to visiting the famous Kurashiki bikan area, there's plenty to keep visitors occupied. But even if you're only coming to see the bridge, you won't regret it. The scenery of the Seto Ohashi Bridge is enough to make the journey worth it.
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