One of the most remarkable bridges in Asia crosses a busy strait in Japan.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, one of the most fascinating bridges in Japan.
1. The bridge crosses the Akashi Strait
The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is also sometimes referred to as the “Pearl Bridge” and is a suspension bridge that crosses the Akashi Strait in Japan. This Strait is located south of the city of Kobe and to the east of the major city of Osaka.
The waters around the strait are important fishing areas. It’s also one of the most important points to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Seto Inland Sea making it one of the busiest straits in Japan (and that means something)!
The Akashi Strait has a maximum length of 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) and a maximum width of 4 kilometers (2.5 kilometers).
2. It connects Honshu with another island of Japan
The strait is situated between the main Japanese island of Honshu and the island of Awaji. It connects Kobe to the relatively small town of Iwaya on the smaller island.
While Awaji Island is relatively small with a total area of 592.17 square kilometers (228.64 square miles), it’s still the largest island in the Seto Inland Sea.
One of the most interesting Akashi Kaikyo Bridge facts is that Awaji Island isn’t the main destination. The bridge is part of the Honshu–Shikoku Highway, a road that connects the main island of Japan with Shikoku, one of the other 5 main islands in the country.
Historically, Awaji Island has always been a transit island as it used to be called “the road to Awa,” a historical province in Japan that is now part of the Tokushima Prefecture on the island of Shikoku.
3. It’s part of a project that consists of 3 major bridges
The bridge is part of a collection of multiple enormous suspension bridges that cross the Seto Inland Sea to reach Shikoku Island from the main island of Honshu.
One of the other main bridges which are part of this amazing network is the Great Seto Bridge, the other one is the Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge.
The Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge is the longest suspension bridge structure in the world with a total length of 4,015 meters (13,173 feet)!
4. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge holds an amazing record
One of the most amazing Akashi Kaikyo Bridge facts is that it’s not the longest suspension bridge in the world, but does hold the record for being the suspension bridge that has the longest central span!
The total length of the bridge is 3,911 meters (12,831 feet) and it consists of 3 spans. The 2 shortest spans are each 960 meters (3,150 feet) and the central span has a total length of 1,991 meters (6,532 feet), the longest of any suspension bridge in the world!
5. The main span was originally 1 meter (3.28 feet) shorter
One of the most fascinatingAkashi Kaikyo Bridge facts is that the original length of the bridge was actually just 1,990 meters (6,530 feet). At some moment during construction, the towers were slightly moved a bit further apart!
This happened on January 17, 1995, during the Great Hanshin earthquake which had an intensity of 7. Only the towers were erected at the time and they moved about 1 meter (3.28 feet), resulting in the central span now being a bit longer than originally intended.
6. The two main towers that support the bridge are enormous
The clearance below is about 65.72 meters (215.6 feet) above mean high water. To put this in some perspective, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City has a clearance below of just 38.7 meters (127 feet).
This means that the towers which support the bridge are enormous as they stand about 282.8 meters (928 feet) above the water!
7. It was built because of a major accident in the 1950s
The bridge pretty much killed the ferry industry in the area, the main means to go from one island to the next before it was built. The problem of the Akashi Strait is that it’s an area prone to severe storms, something that resulted in multiple accidents.
The Shiun Maru Disaster of 1955 which cost the lives of 168 people was the main reason that the Japanese Government started exploring the possibility to construct a bridge on the location.
8. Construction of the bridge didn’t start until 1988
For a long time, the idea was to build a bridge that could support both rail and road traffic. Discussions related to this subject were one of the reasons why it took over 3 decades before construction started after the initial plans were made!
The construction of the bridge, which consists of just 6 lanes of road traffic, started in May of the year 1988 and continued until the bridge was completed and opened for traffic on April 5, 1998, almost 10 years later!
9. The bridge was built to sustain extreme weather conditions
Severe storms and major earthquakes are constant threats to the region of the Akashi Strait. That’s why the bridge had to be built with extreme caution to ensure it can sustain these extreme conditions.
The bridge can sustain winds of 286 kilometers per hour (178 miles per hour) because it’s equipped with a dual-hinged stiffening girder system. It also contains tuned mass dampers which allow the bridge to absorb earthquakes with an intensity of 8.5!
One of the most fascinating Akashi Kaikyo Bridge facts is that it can expand up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) in a day because of the way it’s constructed.
10. Building the bridge was a huge endeavor
To ensure the bridge could sustain such extreme conditions, it had to be built on a solid foundation. That’s why the anchorages on each side of the bridge consist of an enormous amount of concrete.
Each anchorage required 350,000 tonnes of concrete (yes, that’s 350 million kilos). The bridge is also supported by over 300,000 kilometers (190,000 miles) of cables, every 112 centimeters (44 inches) in diameter. All cables combined consist of a total of 36,830 strands of wire!
11. The bridge was extremely expensive to build
The bridge was completed in the year 1998 and about ¥500 billion was spent on its construction, which is about USD 3.6 billion, a massive amount in the 1990s!
This money is being repaid every day as vehicles crossing the bridge are required to pay a toll of 2,300 yen. Well over 20,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day.
12. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge looks amazing at night!
Apart from being an important crossing in Japan, the bridge is also a wonderful landmark in the area! This is especially emphasized at night when the bridge is illuminated with 1,737 lights.
These are attached to the bridge as follows:
- 1,084 for the main cables.
- 116 for the main towers.
- 405 for the girders.
- 132 for the anchorages.
On top of that, the lights can use 28 different patterns to celebrate various holidays in Japan!