Lighthouses of Japan: Nanpō Islands

The Nanpō Islands (Nanpō Shotō) are an archipelago of volcanic islands stretching some 1200 km (750 mi) southward from Tōkyō Bay. The chain includes three main groups of islands: the Izu Islands in the north, the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands to the south, and the Kazan (Volcano) Islands in the far south. For administrative purposes, all the islands are under the government of the Tōkyō Metropolis.

The Izu Islands have a permanent population of about 25,000. Izu Ōshima, the largest of the islands, is also the northernmost. Several of the islands, including Izu Ōshima, have had recent volcanic activity, and one of them, Miyakejima, had to be evacuated from 2000 to 2005 due to an ongoing eruption. Despite these dangers, the islands are popular tourist destinations accessible by ferry from Tōkyō and from Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture. All of the islands are included in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Also included on this page are three lights of the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands, located well to the south, 1000 km (620 mi) south of Tōkyō. The Ogasawara Islands were actually settled by American and British sailors starting about 1830, but they were annexed by Japan in 1876. After World War II, they were administered by the U.S. from 1945 to 1968, when they were returned to Japanese control. Two of the islands, Chichi Jima and Haha Jima, are inhabited. There is no airport; access to the islands is by a ship that sails weekly from Tōkyō.

In Japanese, the word for a lighthouse is tōdai or toudai. The words saki and misaki are for capes and headlands, shima (also spelled sima or jima) is an island, wan is a bay, and is a harbor. Lighthouses in Japan are operated and maintained by the Japanese Coast Guard's Maritime Safety Agency. Lighthouses in the Islands are the responsibility of the Coast Guard's office at Shimoda in Shizuoka Prefecture.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. JP numbers are the Japanese Coast Guard's light list numbers. Admiralty numbers are from volume M of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Lighthouses in Japan - Tōkyō
A comprehensive site, almost entirely in Japanese.
Lighthouses of Japan - Tōkyō
Another comprehensive site, in Japanese, with good photos and additional notes.
Misty's Japanese Lighthouse Tour - Tōkyō
Photos and a few notes for lighthouses in all parts of the country.
Form of a Lighthouse - Tōkyō
Another site with many photos of Japanese lighthouses.
Lighthouses in Tokyo
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
Honshū East Coast
A portion of an undated Japanese Coast Guard light list; it includes the Izu Islands lights.
Lighthouse Database of Japan
A useful listing of all the JCG lights, with their locations, posted by the Weather and Marine Company, Ltd.

Ryūō Saki Light
Ryūō Saki Light, Izu Ōshima, January 2013
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by Otabito

Ōshima Subprefecture Lighthouses

Izu Ōshima Lighthouses
Note: Izu Ōshima is the largest and northernmost of the islands, lying in the mouth of Sagami Bay and visible from many points on the mainland. With a permanent population of about 8600, the island is a popular resort. It is accessible by air from Tōkyō and by ferry from Tōkyō and from Atami in Shizuoka prefecture.
* Izu Ōshima (Kazehaya Saki) (2)
1926 (station established 1915). Active; focal plane 103 m (338 ft); three white flashes every 30 s. 16 m (52 ft) square cylindrival concrete tower with lantern and gallery, centered on a 1-story concrete keeper's house. Entire lighthouse painted white. Lighthouses of Japan has a page with excellent photos, Misty's Tour has a photo, a more distant view is available, and Bing has a satellite view of the station. The original lighthouse was replaced after being damaged by the great Tōkyō earthquake of 1923. Michel Forand has postcard views of the original and present lighthouses; a third postcard shows bracing on the first lighthouse after the earthquake. The building is now used as a scientific research station. The lighthouse is built high on a promontory at the northern tip of the island, 25 km (15 mi) east of the Shizuoka coast; there's a great photo of the lighthouse with the mainland and Mount Fuji in the background. Accessible by a moderately strenuous hike. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-199; JCG-3201; Admiralty M6282; NGA 5476.
* Okada Kō (2)
Date unknown (station established 1939). Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); two green flashes every 8 s. 10 m (33 ft) round hourglass-shaped concrete tower with a domed top. Lighthouse painted white, but decorated as seen in the photo at right. Lighthouses of Japan has a page with good photos, Kiso's Lighthouses has two photos (next to last lighthouse on the page), Google has a very distant street view, and Bing has a satellite view. A 2006 view shows the original light. Located at the end of the breakwater quay at Okada, the ferry terminal for boats arriving at Izu Ōshima from Tōkyō, about 3 km (2 mi) east of the Izu Ōshima lighthouse. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-478; JCG-3202; Admiralty M6284; NGA 5480.
Ryūō Saki (2)
1997 (station established 1951). Active; focal plane 67 m (220 ft); white flash every 12 s. 14 m (46 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Kiso's Lighthouses has a photo (last lighthouse on the page). A photo is at the top of this page, Misty's Tour has two photos, one a closeup, and Bing has a distant satellite view. Lighthouses in Japan has a page with a different lighthouse, an 11.5 m (38 ft) concrete post light mounted at one corner of a square 1-1/2 story concrete equipment shelter. This lighthouse is described as having a focal plane of 14 m (46 ft), placing it near the coast. Presumably it is the earlier version of the light station; the Japanese text says, "The picture was before the renovation." Located at the southern tip of Izu Ōshima. Site status unknown. ARLHS JPN-516; JCG-3203; Admiralty M6280; NGA 5488.
* Habu Kō Jetty
2010. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); green light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 7 m (23 ft) octagonal pyramidal concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is white. Bing has a distant satellite view. Located at the end of the new jetty on the east side of the entrance to the harbor of Habu Kō, a port at the foot of the cape of Ryūō Saki. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3206.2; Admiralty M6281.7; NGA 5486.
* Motomachi (Motomati) Kō
1953. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); green flash every 4 s. 12 m (39 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower; the light is displayed from a short post atop the tower. Lighthouses of Japan has a page with good photos, a distant view is available, Google has a distant street view, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the jetty at Motomachi, a ferry port on the west coast of Izu Ōshima. Accessible by walking the breakwater. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1465; JCG-3207; Admiralty M6286; NGA 5500.
Okada Ko Lighthouse
Okada Kō Light, Izu Ōshima, October 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Nemo's great uncle

To Shima (Toshima) Lighthouses
Note: Toshima is a small island north of Nii Shima and about 18 km (11 mi) southwest of Izu Ōshima. The island has a permanent population of about 330.
* To Shima (Toshima)
1982. Active; focal plane 66 m (217 ft); white flash every 6 s. 13 m (43 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story equipment building. Entire lighthouse is white. Bing has a satellite view. Located on a steep slope above the town at the northern end of the island. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-651; JCG-3208; Admiralty M6273.5; NGA 5552.
* To Shima (Toshima) Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 3 s. 7 m (23 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower, painted red. A distant photo is available, Google has a distant street view (note the mountains of Izu Ōshima in the background), and Bing has a distant satellite view. Located at the end of the east pier at To Shima village, on the north side of the island. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3207.9.

Nii Shima (Niijima) Lighthouses
Note: Niijima is located south southwest of Izu Ōshima. With a permanent population of about 2700, the island is smaller and not as well known as Izu Ōshima. It is accessible by air from Tōkyō, and ferries from Tōkyō to Izu Ōshima continue on to Niijima. It is also accessible by ferry from Shimoda in Shizuoka prefecture.
* Niishima (Niijima) Kō
1990. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); red flash every 3 s. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical tower with a flared top. Entire lighthouse painted red. Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of the jetty at Niishima Kō, the port of Nii Shima, on the west side of the island. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-415; JCG-3208.5; Admiralty M6272.5; NGA 5558.
Nii Shima (Niijima)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 101 m (331 ft); white flash every 8 s. 13 m (43 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story equipment building. Entire lighthouse is white. Google has a satellite view. Located on the southern tip of Nii Shima. Site and tower closed; the lighthouse is on a military base. ARLHS JPN-412; JCG-3209; Admiralty M6272; NGA 5556.

Shikine Shima (Shikinejima) Lighthouses
Note: Located about 5 km (3 mi) west of the southern tip of Nii Shima, Shikinejima has a permanent population of about 600.
* Nobushi (Nobusi) Kō
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); red light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 11 m (36 ft) octagonal concrete tower with gallery. Entire lighthouse painted red. A view from the sea is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the jetty at Nobusi Kō, a port on the north side of Shikine Shima. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-424; JCG-3209.8; Admiralty M6272.8; NGA 5562.
* Shikine Shima Kō
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12m (39 ft); white flash every 3 s. 11 m (36 ft) round concrete tower, rising from a 1-story concrete equipment shelter. Entire lighthouse is white. Luiz Claudio Osawa has a distant view, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on the jetty on the south side of Shikine Shima. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1470; JCG-3210; Admiralty M6273; NGA 5560.

Kōzu Shima Lighthouses
Note: Located about 13 km (8 mi) southwest of Nii Shima, Kōzu Shima is about 5 km (3 mi) in diameter and has a permanent population of about 1900.
* Kōzushima Kō (2)
Date unknown (station established 1970). Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); continuous red light with a more intense flash every 5 s. 10 m (30 ft) octagonal pyramidal concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is red. No photo of the new lighthouse is available, but Bing has a satellite view. A 2007 distant view shows the original light, a round hourglass-shaped concrete tower. Located at the end of the jetty at Kōzushima Kō, a port on the west side of Kōzu Shima. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3211; Admiralty M6274.4; NGA 5568.
* Kōzu Shima
1951. Active; focal plane 121 m (397 ft); flash every 12 s, white or red depending on direction. 15 m (49 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 1-story concrete keeper's house. Entire lighthouse is white. A Coast Guard photo is at right, a closeup photo (1/5 the way down the page) is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the southwestern tip of Kōzu Shima. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-280; JCG-3212; Admiralty M6274; NGA 5564.
Kōzu Shima Light
Kōzu Shima Light, Kōzu Shima
Japanese Coast Guard Shimoda Office photo

Miyake Subprefecture Lighthouses

Miyakejima Lighthouses
Note: Miyakejima is an actively volcanic island about 32 km (20 mi) southeast of Nii Shima; the volcano, Mount Oyama, has had major eruptions roughly every 20 years or so. Despite the danger of eruptions, the island has a permanent population of about 2900. Eruptions forced everyone from the island in 2000, but residents were allowed to return in 2005. Air service from Tōkyō was resumed in April 2008, and the island is also accessible by overnight ferry from Tōkyō.
* Izu Misaki
1909. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) square cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. A photo is at right, Lighthouses of Japan has a page with good photos, the Coast Guard has another photo, Rebecca Lowson has a closeup photo, and another photo is available, and Bing has a distant satellite view. This little lighthouse, built of roughly cut stone blocks, is a throwback to a nearly-vanished era of Japanese lighthouse history. The photo at right shows former keepers and their descendents celebrating the 100th anniversary of the lighthouse on 1 June 2009. Located at the northwestern tip of Miyakejima. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-198; JCG-3213; Admiralty M6276; NGA 4920.
* Satado Misaki
1954. Active; focal plane 36 m (118 ft); white flash every 15 s. 14 m (46 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story concrete keeper's house. Entire lighthouse is white. Lighthouses of Japan has a page with several photos, a closeup and another photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a bluff on the east side of Miyakejima. Site and tower closed, but the lighthouse can be viewed from outside the fence. ARLHS JPN-540; JCG-3214; Admiralty M6275; NGA 4924.
* Izu Miyake (Miike) Kō
1969. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); white flash every 3 s. 15 m (49 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is white. Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the jetty at the Miyake ferry harbor, a short distance south of the Satado Misaki lighthouse. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1462; JCG-3215; Admiralty M6276.1; NGA 4928.
* Tsubota Kō
1963. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); green flash every 5 s. 8.5 m (28 ft) round concrete tower with a flared top, attached to a small concrete equipment shelter. Entire lighthouse is white. Google has a satellite view. Located on the main breakwater of Tsubota, a small port on the southeast coast of the island. Accessible by walking the pier. JCG-3216; Admiralty M6276.4; NGA 4932.
* Ako Kō (?)
1963. Inactive since 2012 and probably demolished. 8.5 m (28 ft) round hourglass-shaped concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is white. Two photos (fourth and fifith on the page) are available, and Bing has a satellite view. This light was probably relocated in 1987 when the harbor was rebuilt. Deactivated pierhead lights in Japan are usually demolished, so this light has probably been removed. Located on a spur of the north jetty at Ako harbor, on the southwest side of the island. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3218; ex-Admiralty M6276.2; NGA 4936.

Izu Misaki Light, Miyakejima, June 2009
Japanese Coast Guard Shimoda Office photo
* Ako Kō Outer Breakwater
1987. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white flash every 3 s. 10 m (28 ft) round concrete tower with a flared top. Entire lighthouse is white. A closeup and another good photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the main breakwater at Ako harbor. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3218.2; Admiralty M6276.3; NGA 4938.

Mikurajima Lighthouses
Note: Located about18 km (11 mi) south of Miyakejima, Mikurajima is a small island with a permanent population of about 300.
* Mikurashima (Mikurajima)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); red flash every 4 s. 7 m (23 ft) octagonal pyramidal concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is red. A distant view is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the end of the Mikurajima jetty, near the northern tip of the island. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3218.6; Admiralty M6276.6; NGA 4939.

Hachijō Subprefecture Lighthouses

Hachijōjima Lighthouses
Note: Hachijōjima is an island about 300 km (190 mi) south of Tōkyō and about 100 km (62 mi) south southeast of Miyakejima. This is one of the most populous of the islands, with a population of about 8600. It is accessible by air or by overnight ferry from Tōkyō.
* Ōgosi Hana
1961. Active; focal plane 99 m (325 ft); two white flashes every 20 s. 15 m (49 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Hirohiro Akabane has a distant view, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the northwestern tip of the island. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-452; JCG-3219; Admiralty M6279.6; NGA 4940.
* Kaminato Kō North
1990. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); green light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 10 m (33 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with flared top. Entire lighthouse is white. Google has a satellite view. Located near the end of a breakwater at the traditional harbor of Kaminato, on the northeast side of Hachijōjima. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-217; JCG-3221; Admiralty M6278.1; NGA 4948.
* Kaminato Kō South
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white flash every 3 s. 10.5 m (35 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with flared top. Entire lighthouse is white. Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the end of the ferry pier at the newer south port of Kaminato, about 1.6 km (1 mi) southeast of the older light. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3221.3.
* Ishizumiga Hana (Hachijōjima)
1951. Active; focal plane 96 m (315 ft); white flash every 10 s. 17 m (56 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from the center of a 1-story square concrete keeper's house. Entire lighthouse is white. Hirohiro Akabane's photo is at right, a closeup is available, the Coast Guard has a page with a photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on a bluff at the southeastern end of Hachijōjima. Site open, tower closed except for occasional open house days. ARLHS JPN-090; JCG-3222; Admiralty M6277; NGA 4952.
* Yaene Kō
1975. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 9 m (30 ft) round hourglass-shaped concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is white. A distant view is available, and Google has a satellite view. The photo shows the lighthouse with a distinct lean, apparently caused by damage from a typhoon. Located at the end of the jetty at Yaene Kō, a sheltered harbor on the southwest side of Hachijōjima. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-743; JCG-3223; Admiralty M6277.4; NGA 4956.
Hachijōjima Light
Ishizumiga Hana Light, Hachijōjima, August 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Hirohiro Akabane

Ogasawara Subprefecture Lighthouses

Chichi Jima Lighthouses
Note: The largest of the Ogasawara Islands, Chichi Jima has a permanent population of about 2000. The population was removed during World War II and only returned after the islands were ceded back to Japan by the U.S. in 1968. The harbor facilities had to be rebuilt after being destroyed by a tsunami in 1960.
Hutami (Futami) Kō (Chichi Jima)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 70 m (230 ft); white flash every 4 s; also a continuous light, white, red or green depending on direction. 10 m (33 ft) round white concrete tower with gallery. No photo available, but Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on a hill behind the harbor of Futami, the main town of Chichi Jima. Site status unknown. ARLHS OGA-001; JCG-3227 (flashing light) and 3228 (directional light); Admiralty M8346; NGA 4964 (flashing light) and 4968 (directional light).
* Hutami (Futami) Kō (Chichi Jima) Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); green light occulting once every 8 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) round cylindrical white fiberglass tower. A photo is at right,and Google has a distant satellite view. Located at the end of the west breakwater at the entrance to Hutami harbor. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3226; Admiralty M8348; NGA 4960.

Haha Jima Lighthouses
Note: Located about 50 km (30 mi) south of Chichi Jima, Haha Jima has a population of less than 500. In Japanese, Chichi Jima and Haha Jima mean "Father Island" and "Mother Island," respectively.
* Oki Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); green flash every 3 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower. The light is seen in a view of the harbor, and Google has a good satellite view. Located at the end of the west breakwater at Oki Kō, the port of Haha Jima, near the southern tip of the island. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3229.3; Admiralty M8351; NGA 4974.
Haha Jima (Oki Kō)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); continuous light, white, red or green depending on direction. 12 m (39 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower. The light is at the far left in a view of the harbor, and Google has a good satellite view. Located on a steep bluff on the east side of the harbor entrance, on the southwestern side of the island. Site status unknown. ARLHS OGA-002; JCG-3229; Admiralty M8350; NGA 4972.
Hutami Ko Breakwater Light
Hutami Kō Breakwater Light, Chichi Jima, April 2011
Panoramio photo copyright Kyst1969; permission requested

Iō Tō (Iwo Jima, Iōjima) Lighthouse
Iō Tō
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 112 m (367 ft); flashing light, alternating white and green. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) square cylindrical airport control tower, attached to a 2-story administration building. A photo is available, Wikipedia has a closeup, and Google has a satellite view. The island is famous as the setting of the Battle of Iwo Jima in February and March 1945, Iō Tō has since reclaimed its prewar spelling and pronunciation. It is one of the remote Kazan (Volcano) Islands, located 1200 km (750 mi) south of Tōkyō. The island has no permanent inhabitants but is a strategic military base. In general, the Directory does not list airport beacons, but this one is well established as a navigational aid. Located at the Iō Tō air base, built by the U.S. and now operated by Japan. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3230; Admiralty M8360; NGA 4976.

Okino Tori Shima (Parece Vela) Lighthouse
Okino Tori Shima (Okinotorishima)
2007. Active; focal plane about 22 m (72 ft); white flash every 8 s. Post, carrying an LED light, attached to a 1-story fiberglass equipment cabinet, mounted on the roof of a 2-story crew building supported by piles. Google has a distant satellite view. Okinotorishima ("Distant Bird Island") is an isolated atoll, awash at high tide, located in the Philippine Sea 567 km (352 mi) west southwest of Iō Tō, or roughly 1700 km (1060 mi) south southwest of Tōkyō and 1100 km (690 mi) southeast of Okinawa. The atoll was discovered by Spanish navigators and later rediscovered by British navigators. Japan annexed the atoll in 1931. Since 1988 there has been a scientific research station on a large platform inside the atoll; this facility has had to be repaired several times due to damage from typhoons, which are very frequent in this area. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3240.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Tōkyō Area | Northwest: Shizuoka

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Posted August 30, 2006. Checked and revised October 10, 2014. Lighthouses: 31. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.