Designed by Japanese engineer Satoshi Kashima, the Akashi Kaikyō is ranked as the world's longest suspension bridge, thanks to a central span of 1,991 metres.
The other two spans each measure 960 metres, giving it an overall length of 3,911 metres.
The six-lane road bridge connects the city of Kobe on Japan's main island Honshu with Iwaya, a town on Awaji Island to the south.
It is supported by two pylons, each with a height of 282.8 metres, and uses approximately 190,000 miles of steel cables. These allow it to withstand wind speeds of up to 180 miles per hour and earthquakes of up to 8.5 on the Richter scale.
The structure was built in 1998 as part of the Honshū-Shikoku Bridge Project, which created three new expressways across the Seto Inland Sea.
Previously these routes were only served by ferries, but frequent severe storms made for dangerous journeys. Two ships sank during poor weather conditions in 1955, resulting in the deaths of 168 people, and the bridges were developed in response.
Approximately 23,000 cars now cross the Akashi Kaikyō each day. By night, it is illuminated with over 1,700 lights, which create choreographed patterns on national holidays and other occasions.
In the spirit of an advent calendar, Dezeen will publish another bridge every day until Christmas. Last year's A-Zdvent calendar focused on chair design, while our 2013 countdown featured architects from around the world.