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!
>Setouchi – Shikoku roadmap front
>Setouchi – Shikoku roadmap back
■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
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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.
> Speaking of Setouchi, the must-eat item is seafood! – A selection of 7 spots where you can try fresh seafood.
> A selection of 7 cafes and restaurants in Setouchi with superb scenery and views of the sea.
> A tranquil garden full of Japanese beauty and a huge carpet of green moss. / Gallery Teahouse Kokemushiro (Seiyo-shi, Ehime)
> 3 places for barhopping in Yokogawawhich carefully selected by a “hard-drinking” writer / Nice Yukari, Gohan-ya Haru-chan, and Trois Copain
> Please fully enjoy local sake brewed in Tokushima at the shop where you can “buy and drink.” / Taro Saketen (Tokushima-shi, Tokushima)
> A century-old Japanese house which an Onomichi merchant used as a villa has been renovated for accommodation. / The house rental “Kujira Bekkan” (Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima)
> An inn where you can find “ordinary Kobe” / Guesthouse MAYA (Kobe-shi, Hyogo)
> This could be the best choice for your stay in Awajishima! How about having a family trip while staying at a hot spring resort where you can get a great ocean view? / Hotel New Awaji Group (Sumoto-shi, Hyogo)
> Come and see, rail fans! A new base for a circular sightseeing tour in Shikoku, which is produced by JR SHIKOKU./ 4S STAY Awaikeda Sta.(Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima)
> Books, a bar, and international exchange!? 3 selections of hotel and guesthouses which have attractive little perks in the center of Hiroshima / (KIRO Hiroshima -THE SHARE HOTELS-, EN HIROSHIMA, and 36HOSTEL)
> Visit historic spots in the city center of Hiroshima on foot and learn about the history of peace (Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima)
> This is the ultimate soothing trip – feel the sense and the heart of Japan in Uchiko Town and Ozu City in Ehime.
> Beauty exists in every detailed corner of your eyesight! 8 spots where you can see wonderful views of Setouchi and its beautiful islands.
> Visiting the well-known “power spots” where mystical energy flows! This northern drive route visits temples, shrines, and cultural heritage sites in Tottori, Shimane, and Yamaguchi
> A continual stream of natural beauty which will make your heart tremble! The eastern drive route covers the best viewing spots in Okayama, Hyogo, and Tokushima
> Let’s enjoy a liberating new Setouchi voyage by “SEA SPICA”!
> The last report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi -Vol.5. STU48 members attended the launching ceremony. / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi -Vol.4. STU48 members paint the ship’s logo! / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the merging of the superstructure and the base of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi Vol.3 by members of STU48 / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi. Vol.2 shows you the “Reversal Procedure” where the ship is turned over. / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> Shimanami Kaido - Cyclist's Paradise
> Onomichi U2 and the Giant Store – the perfect partners for enjoying the Shimanami Kaidō
> Eating, Cycling & Getting Warm : Akiyoshidai Karst Road (Mine City, Yamaguchi Prefecture)
> Kasaoka Island Hopping by Bike : A perfect 2-day trip! (Okayama)
> A Rare Lighthouse & Spelunking!? Traversing Ogijima by Bicycle! (Ogi, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture)
> “ONOMARU SHOUTEN” is the shop which has all of Onomichi’s fascinations. / JR Onomichi Ekisha (Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima)
> Kobe Shopping: 3 Distinct Local Brands to Bring Home（Kobe, Hyogo）【PR】
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
> “Meika Shitatsuzumi, ”a Japanese sweet from Yamaguchi which is soft, pleasant and melty on your tongue / San-in-do (Yamaguchi-shi, Yamaguchi)
> Let’s enjoy taking a walk down the shopping street near Matsuyama Castle./Matsuyama Ropeway Shopping Street (Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture)
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