The Eshima Ohashi Bridge is an amazing feat of engineering—and also an incredibly fun drive.
Defying conventional categorization, Eshima Ohashi in Japan blurs the line between a bridge and a rollercoaster. Stretching over a mile across Lake Nakaumi, separating Shimane and Tottori prefectures, this world-famous structure may appear intimidating in terms of road safety. However, the reality is far less daunting than its initial impression suggests.
While navigating this engineering marvel, a powerful car with a reliable transmission becomes essential. Equipping your vehicle with top-notch brakes is also highly recommended to ensure a smooth experience.
How the Eshima Ohashi Bridge came to be
Before the construction of Eshima Ohashi, a bridge connected Shimane and Tottori but presented numerous inconveniences. Whenever a ship required passage, traffic would come to a standstill, causing delays of up to eight minutes. Moreover, the weight limit of 14 tons restricted larger vehicles, and the bridge accommodated a mere 4,000 vehicles daily. For those who found themselves leaving work late, taking an alternate route became unavoidable.
In 1997, Japanese engineers and architects embarked on an ambitious endeavor to address these challenges and create the remarkable Eshima Ohashi bridge. Their objective was to seamlessly connect the two prefectures while allowing safe passage for ships below. The solution? Soaring to impressive heights! With a peak elevation of 144 feet, this extraordinary bridge ranks among the world’s tallest rigid frame structures.
Is it really as steep as it looks?
According to ZME Science, the two slopes of the bridge have gradients of 5.1% and 6.1%. To put it into perspective, DangerousRoads.org lists the ten steepest roads in America as having gradients between 31.5% and 37%. Of course, only pedestrians or people with 4-wheel drive vehicles are allowed on some of those steep roads—and they are significantly shorter.
Fortunately, you won’t need a 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle to climb Eshima Ohashi. Just a good set of nerves as you approach the ascent! Luckily, the bridge isn’t really quite as steep as it appears in photographs.
Eshima Ohashi is a popular tourist attraction
While it serves as a routine commute for locals, people from across the globe travel to witness the marvel of Eshima Ohashi firsthand. This incredible bridge attracts visitors seeking an unforgettable experience. For those preferring a leisurely pace, sidewalks on both sides allow for a more immersive journey.
Upon reaching the bridge’s apex, visitors are treated to stunning vistas of the lake and its surrounding expanse. Telescopes and binoculars are conveniently provided, enabling a closer appreciation of the breathtaking scenery. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the adjacent Daikon Island, known for its captivating Japanese garden. Renowned as Japan’s largest producer of seedling peony plants, the island is a botanical treasure.
Timing your visit just right may offer a captivating display of these magnificent flowers in full bloom. With around 20,000 peonies representing 250 diverse species, the island transforms into a spectacular tapestry of colors and shapes. Witnessing this abundance of massive and stunning blooms is truly an awe-inspiring sight.
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