Completed in 2004 on Lake Nakaumi, the Eshima Ohashi Bridge is not suitable for new drivers; or so the viral stories that have been circulating on the Internet for years, always accompanied by images and videos of their impossible verticality. Actually, it’s not that bad.
Let’s see, do not get me wrong. The work has several records: it is the largest rigid frame bridge in Japan and the third largest in the world. Its bow shape is due to the need for fishing boats to pass under, and its remarkable inclination is the result of its elevation.
But its inclination is not, even remotely, as chilling as it looks in the photos. The bridge is almost 2 kilometers long and reaches 45 meters in height. It’s a long way to go for the drivers who go up and down each day, but they do not have to do it at first nor feel a twitch in their stomachs as if they were riding a roller coaster .
The truth is that the bridge has an inclination of 6.1% on the side of the Shimane prefecture and 5.1% on the side of the Tottori prefecture. To compare it with something, this street in Los Angeles has a slope of 32% . The bridge is much less intimidating seen from another perspective:
The images we see in so many virals are nothing more than an optical illusion. The bridge looks almost vertical because it is photographed at a right angle, from a considerable distance and with a telephoto lens, which flattens perspective. It is a type of distortion that has also been used to photograph some of the steepest streets in California with the same result. Actually, driving on the Eshima Ohashi bridge is a simple and smooth experience, except for the traffic jams.