Seto Ohashi Bridge (Great Seto Bridge) 瀬戸大橋
Island hopping from Japan's jeans capital to Shikoku on a bridge you can see from space
The world's longest two-tiered bridge system, the Seto Ohashi, is an architectural feat visible from space that took a decade to build. It connects Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture on Honshu with five islands by both road and rail, ending up in the city of Sakaide on Shikoku .
Besides boasting Japan's denim capital of Kojima, the Kurashiki side of the bridge has the Bikan Historical Quarter , famed for its willow tree-lined canal and lovely Edo period architecture, and the Ohara Museum of Art , which showcases European and Japanese impressionists and neoclassical works. Sakaide has museums and two temples on Shikoku's 88-temple pilgrimage.
- Strolling through Kurashiki's Bikan Historical Quarter
- Shopping for custom-made clothing on Jeans Street in Kojima
- Learn about the Seto Ohashi at the Seto Ohashi Memorial Museum
How to Get There
Get to the area first by shinkansen to either Shin-Okayama Station or Shin-Kurashiki Station, then take regular JR trains to JR Kojima Station.
Take the Seto-Ohashi Line from JR Okayama Station to JR Kojima Station. To get to the bridge, take a Shimoden bus from JR Kojima Station headed for Sakaide Station, and get off at Seto-Ohashi FW (Fishing Wharf). To cross the bridge via train, take the JR Seto-Ohashi Line from JR Kojima Station headed for Takamatsu Station.
Custom denim and Edo period ambience
Before you cross the bridge, be sure to tour Kurashiki . The Kojima area of the town is the de-facto jeans capital of Japan, with expertly crafted denim on display on its colorful Jeans Street in dozens of storefronts. A bus will take you there from Kurashiki Station.
Kurashiki's canal area is lined with old warehouses and merchant homes converted into inns, shops, bars, restaurants and other outlets. Boatmen punt two small boats along the Kurashiki River during the daytime. The Ohara Museum of Art has pieces by El Greco, Gauguin, and Monet among its collection.
Looking up at the magnificent span
Washuzan is the highland district near the base of the bridge, on the Okayama side. Locally known for its Brazil-themed amusement park, it also has a free observation deck where you can view the bridge and the seascape.
Stepping stones across the Seto Inland Sea
If you happen to drive across the Seto Ohashi or are on a tour that makes stops visit one of the five islands that act as stepping stones across the Seto Inland Sea. Yoshima is excellent for a stroll and full of well-maintained traditional architecture and points of interest.
On the Shikoku side
The other side of the bridge stops in the city of Sakaide, home to the Seto Ohashi Memorial Museum, which tells the history of the construction of the great bridge.
Two temples Shiromine and Tenno on Shikoku's 88-temple pilgrimage are in Sakaide. Both are distinctive and prime spots for a visit at any time of the year.
A museum dedicated to one of Japan's finest artists
Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Higashiyama Kaii Setouchi Art Museum and the thought-provoking work of its namesake. A mainstay of 20th-century art in Japan, Kaii won public recognition and national acclaim for his creations. Besides the permanent display, the museum holds regular themed exhibitions of many of his pieces.
From the cafe on the second floor, you can see an incredible panorama view of Seto Ohashi Bridge looking from Kagawa toward Okayama.