Kurahashi Island (倉橋島) has been connected to Kure City by a bridge since 1961. The island is composed of two towns, Ondo and Kurahashi, which were amalgamated into Kure City on March 20, 2005. Kurahashi Island is the second largest in the Geiyo Islands at 69.56 km² but only the fourth most populous. Around 22,200 people live on Kurahashi in the two towns.
Historically, the island was called Nagato Island in the distant past. The Ondo straits between island and the mainland has always been an important route through which ships sailing up and down Honshu have past through.
The Ondo-Ohashi (音戸大橋) to Kurahashi Island from Kure City is actually one of the most famous bridges in Hiroshima Prefecture. The bridge is not terribly long at 172 meters but is considered an engineering triumph. In one day, upwards of 700 ships can pass through the Ondo Straits. Some of these include 1,000 ton vessels built at Kure's dockyards. A bridge which blocked ocean traffic was out of the question but neither side had a high enough hill to build a bridge between or the space to build the necessary long ramp to reach the desired 23.5 meter height.
To meet these unique challenges, engineers designed and built two spirals on both sides for cars to reach the bridge. They also made it surprising pretty by adding a large number of flowers to the Kure side spiral. Crossing the bridge during golden week when the flowers are blooming can take a long time because of the traffic. But, spinning rapidly past alternating colors of flowers does have its rewards. Amusingly, when the flowers are blooming, many people come just to see and take more pictures of the bridge. The bridge was officially opened in December 1961. The last toll was collected in 1974 and the bridge is now free to use.
The Towns of Ondo and Kurahashi
The Town of Ondo (音戸町) takes up the northern half and the Town of Kurahashi (倉橋町) takes up the southern half of Kurahashi Island. Both were amalgamated into Kure City on March 20, 2005
Katsuragahama (桂ヶ浜) in Kurahashi is the most popular and famous beach on the island. The beach is also a historic site where, in 736, a Japanese diplomatic envoy set sail from here to the Korean Peninsula. This event was captured in the first extant collection of Japanese poetry which was made in the 8th century. It is considered to be one of the top 100 white sand beaches with green pine trees.
Kurahashi Island can be easily reached from Kure City. There is regular bus service to the island from JR Kure Station. The Ondo Bridge is south of the city on Highway 487 which follows along the coast near Mt. Yasumiyama and past the naval base. The bridge can also be reached via a more scenic coastal route (66) from Aga on the eastern side of Mt. Yasumiyama.
Posted: April 8, 2011 Updated: February 9, 2015