The Great Seto Bridge Sky Tour is held twice a year – in spring and fall – and is extremely popular. The number of entrants for the lottery is 12 times greater than the number of lucky winners!
In this article I will describe the exhilarating experience of participating in this event, the first of which was held a mere 20-years ago.
Starting At Yoshima Island
In joyous anticipation of the tour, and in high spirits due to the great weather conditions, I made my way along The Great Seto Bridge before arriving at the Yoshima Island parking area.
Today’s tour would take me from the concrete bridge anchorage point (bottom-left in the photo) all the way up to the bridge tower (top-right). But, how on earth was I supposed to get up there?
Mr. Kiso from the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company, my guide for the day, handed me a pair of cotton gloves featuring a super-cute mascot!
All participants are told to remove all belongings and any loose items from their pockets, and to put straps on their cellphones, cameras and spectacles. As any kind of accident would result in the cancelation of all future Sky Tours, these rules are strictly enforced. If you’re lucky enough to take part in the event, be careful!
Anyway, on with my helmet, and off we go!
Into The Maw Of The Bridge
I was led inside the anchorage point and, to my surprise, the interior was enormous! Just have a look at the stairs for scale and you can easily imagine its vastness!
Several photos and information about the bridge construction as well as miniature models are on display. Personally, I found this photo (above) of the boats towing what would be the base of the bridge particularly interesting. It’s a really cool photo.
Next, we took the elevator up and out.
As the seemingly endless service walkway is made of metal grating, anyone less than fond of heights should try not to look down as they make their way along. My hands started to sweat a little… (To protect the faint-of-heart, I won’t post a photo!)
The expressway runs above, and to the side, the railroad. Trains pass by as we continue on.
Reaching The Top
Along walkways, up stairs, on elevators, up ladders, around steel-framed structures, and finally at 175 meters above sea level… the top.
My excitement is hard to describe. What waited for me at the top was…
I lost my focus there for a second, as you undoubtedly will too. It’s nothing short of jaw dropping, stunning… simply overwhelming. With the amount of adrenalin pumping through your brain and body, any fear of heights vanishes.
Having had this experience, I’m now even fonder of The Great Seto Bridge. I’m eternally indebted to all involved who make this event possible, and for a mere 500 yen!
The chances of winning the lottery to join The Great Seto Bridge Sky Tour may be slim, but it is well worth entering.
The Great Seto Bridge Sky Tour
Address: Yoshima Island, Sakaide, Kagawa Prefecture.
Time: Twice a year (spring & fall)
Fee: 500 yen per person (the fee also covers accident insurance). Transport fee not included.
Tel: 086-483-1100 (weekdays 9:00 – 17:30)
The Great Seto Bridge Sky Tour – Okayama Management Center – Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Shinji Otokura & hiroe
■The Sanin, Setouchi & Shikoku Road Map
Our sightseeing information roadmap of the Sanin, Setouchi, and Shikoku regions is now complete. The map provides easily accessible sightseeing info like never before, and with this, your road-trip is sure to be even more enjoyable. The map contains info on rent-a-car services, tourist information centers, roadside service areas, and is completely free-of-charge, so please have a look!
■Times Car Rental Tourist Information Campaign
The car rental company Times Mobility Networks Co., Ltd. is now offering a voice translation app and tourist information services for foreign travelers via tablets at several Times Car Rental stores throughout the Setouchi region. Renting a car at one of these stores means you can get more sightseeing info about specific areas, and therefore enjoy your trip even more!
Osaka: Kansai Airport
Hyogo: Sannomiya Station, Shinkobe Station, Himeji Station
Okayama: Okayama Airport, Okayama Station, Kurashiki Station
Hiroshima: Hiroshima Airport, Hiroshima Station South Exit (BIGFRONT Hiroshima), Hiroshima Otemachi
Yamaguchi: Iwakunikintaikyo Airport, Iwakuni Station, Ube Airport
Tokushima: Tokushima Airport, Tokushima Chuo
Kagawa: Takamatsu Station, Takamatsu Airport
Ehime: Matsuyama Station, Matsuyama Airport, Matsuyama Sanbancho
Fukuoka: Fukuoka Airport International Terminal
Shinji Otokura / Hiroe
Shinji Otokura Though I’m currently living on an island in Hiroshima prefecture, I previously lived in Okayama for 18 years and in Yamaguchi for 6 years. I work in architecture and design. I will be spending my days traveling around and sharing the places and things I discover with all you wonderful people. Hiroe After working as an environmental analyst in Fukuoka, I went to study in London, England. Since returning to Japan, I have been living among the beautiful nature of Osakikamijima, an island in the Seto Inland Sea. I’m going to walk the Setouchi islands wherever my feet take me, and write about the distinctive lifestyles, culture and scenery of the area as experienced by a complete newcomer.
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