Ritsurin-kōen, Iya valley & Seto bridge

17-18 March 2010

Shikoku seems to be all about bridges. We already had the big Naruto bridge, and there is more to come!

The first stop was Ritsurin-kōen, a famous garden in Takamatsu city, at the north of Shikoku. It was a nice and sunny day, so the weather was perfect for a stroll in this large garden. Lots of animals here...

... really! Lots of them!

A bridge! A bridge! Ok... this is just one of the standard elements of a Japanese garden I guess...

Our next stop was the Iya valley, a narrow valley in the center of Shikoku, and famoust for 2 things: its tranquil nature and...

A BRIDGE! For many centuries, people have built suspension bridges here using local vines. The kazura-bashi is such a vine bridge, and the only one (or at least the most famous of a few) still remaining. Also note the typical Japanese wood-like concrete fences in the foreground!

Of course the vines are natural, and they have to be replaced once in a while. At some point in history, it seems some steel cables sneaked in. With Japan's high-standard camouflage techniques (think wood-like concrete fences here), however, it is not unthinkable that a worker might have mistaken such a steel cable for a vine of excellent quality.

No time for the rest of Shikoku, better next time. We would have liked to see the cliffs of the south west coast (Tatsukushi, Ashizurimisaki), the old kabuki theatre of Uchiko, Dogo Onsen, Matsuyama castle, and the islands along the Shimanamikaido. And an old roofed bridge in the ricefields (or two: Yugejinja 弓削神社 [JP], Tamarubashi 田丸橋 [JP])

Back to the "mainland":

"The Seto bridge" is actually a series of 6 bridges connecting Skikoku and Honshū via 5 tiny islands "At 13.1 km long, it ranks as the world's longest two-tiered bridge system." [wiki] It has roads on the upper decks and train tracks on the lower decks. The bridge was still under construction when in 1995 a devastating earthquake hit Kobe, and caused a new fault right underneath the bridge, which influenced the final design.

View from the Yoshima Service Area, shich takes up half of Yoshima island.

More info about the highway bridges: Official website of the "Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company". In English!
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