This is the Eshima Ohashi Bridge, located in Japan.
Before you ask, yes, it’s completely real, and yes, cars drive on it every day.
The bridge has developed a reputation as the scariest bridge in the world, and it’s very, very difficult to argue with that assessment. It features a 6.1 percent gradient on one side and a 5.1 percent gradient on the other side.
It also winds slightly on its ascent, which makes it look especially scary when viewed from a distance. Of course, if you drive on it slowly, it doesn’t look so bad, provided that you’ve recently had your brakes checked.
Scary as this one is, it isn’t anywhere close to the highest bridge in the world. That honor belongs to the Sidu River Bridge, which has an impressive height of 1,627 feet. Nor is it the most dangerous bridge in the world; the Eshima Ohashi is fairly safe, despite its intimidating ascent.
The Eshima Ohashi Bridge’s construction took from 1997 to 2004, and it’s the largest rigid-frame bridge in Japan. That makes it the third-largest rigid-frame bridge in the world.
Although it’s been called a terrifying roller coaster bridge, that’s a bit misleading.
The gradient is gradual enough to make it safe for standard vehicles, so you don’t need some sort of a special transmission to make it over the Eshima Ohashi. Nor does it feel like going on a roller coaster (unless you’ve been on really, really tame roller coasters).
The farther you get from the bridge, the scarier it looks, but that’s actually pretty common with bridges. Here’s a bridge in Texas that’s terrifying, for sure, but perfectly safe if you’re not afraid of heights.
That’s Rainbow Bridge, which connects the Port Arthur and Bridge City. No word on whether Bridge City was named for the giant bridge, but we’re going to go out on a limb and say that it’s not a huge coincidence.
Rainbow Bridge is significantly older than the Eshima Ohashi Bridge. The Texas bridge was completed in 1938 (although it has certainly been updated since completion). As with the other bridges we’ve covered, it’s a bit less scary when photographed differently, and its straight path makes it look fairly manageable.
This pretty sunset view of Rainbow Bridge actually looks like a pleasant ride, doesn’t it?
It’s still a little off-putting, but again, totally safe if you’ve got working brakes.
It’s really difficult to gauge how scary (or totally not scary) these bridges are unless you’re actually traveling over them yourself. Human perspective is kind of like that. Fortunately, some very, very bored drivers have filmed themselves taking trips over these bridges, and we’re not above posting them for your viewing pleasure.
Here’s a video of what traveling over Eshima Ohashi Bridge looks like. Try not to get sick (either due to the shots of the bridge or from the cheesy music).
As you can see, the cars aren’t careening wildly out of control, although they do have to travel a bit more slowly than they might on a flat road. Still…those pictures, though.