Lighthouses of Japan: Kōbe and Akashi

This page includes lighthouses of the southeastern coast of the Japanese prefecture of Hyōgo, including the cities of Kōbe and Akashi. Southern Hyōgo faces south on the eastern end of the Seto Inland Sea (Seto Naikai), which separates Honshū from Shikoku. Hyōgo also includes the large island of Awaji, which nearly spans the Seto Inland Sea and comes very close to connecting Honshū and Shikoku. Lighthouses of Awaji Shima and of the Himeji Area are on a separate page. In addition, Hyōgo Prefecture also has a northern coast facing the Sea of Japan. Lighthouses of that coast are described on the Tottori Area page.

In Japanese, the word for a lighthouse is tōdai or toudai (灯台). 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. On Honshū there is at least one Coast Guard Section Office in each prefecture, often two. The lighthouses of Kōbe City and Akashi City are maintained by the Kōbe office.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. JCG 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 - Hyōgo
A comprehensive site, almost entirely in Japanese.
Lighthouse-Japan.com - Hyōgo
A page from a large site; photos and notes from recent visits.
Lighthouses (Hyōgo Prefecture)
A comprehensive site for photos of Japanese lighthouses.
Form of a Lighthouse - Hyōgo
Another large web site, but with only a few Kōbe area lights.
Kiso's Lighthouses
This site has many excellent photos of Japanese lighthouses.
Misty's Japanese Lighthouse Tour
Photos and a few notes for lighthouses in all parts of the country.
Lighthouses in Hyōgo Prefecture
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
Richard Henry Brunton
Wikipedia article on the Scottish engineer who built most of Japan's oldest lighthouses.
Japan: Modern Lighthouses
Historic postcard views posted by Michel Forand.

Hira Iso Light
Hira Iso Light, Akashi Strait
Japanese Coast Guard Fifth Region photo

Kōbe City Lighthouses

Nishinomiya Lighthouses
Nishinomiya Breakwater Southeast End
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); green flash every 5 s. 16 m (52 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. The Nishinomiya Breakwater is a long east-west detached breakwater parallel to the coast between Ōsaka and Kōbe. Located at the east (Ōsaka) end of the breakwater, off the north harbor of Ōsaka. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. JCG-3631; Admiralty M5899; NGA 7400.
* Ozekishuzo Imazu (Ozeki Saki)
1810 (reconstructed 1965). Active; focal plane 7.5 m (25 ft); continuous green light. 8 m (26 ft) square tapered wood tower with a open square "birdcage" lantern, mounted on a square stone base. Tower painted black. S. Morita has a closeup photo, another photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This historic lighthouse was rebuilt by the Osabe Brewing Company; it is the only pre-Meiji era lighthouse active in Japan. We don't know how much of the tower is original material. Although the light has only slight value for boaters, it is carried on all the light lists as an official aid to navigation. Located at the entrance to a small boat harbor, part of an athletic complex in the Nishinomiya neighborhood at the eastern edge of Kōbe. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1527; JCG-3632; Admiralty M5886; NGA 7404.
Naruohama Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); two green flashes every 6 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) concrete post attached to a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is white. A distant sunset view is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of a narrow breakwater in the Naruohama harbor in eastern Kōbe. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1915; JCG-3631.2; Admiralty M5899.3; NGA 7402.
Nishinomiya North Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); green flash every 3 s. 10 m (33 ft) concrete post attached to a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is white. A sunset photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of a long breakwater sheltering Nishinomiya harbor. Site status unknown. ARLHS JPN-1524; JCG-3631.6; Admiralty M5899.5; NGA 7398.
Nishinomiya Breakwater West End
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); red flash every 3 s. 17 m (56 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse painted red. A Coast Guard photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. The Nishinomiya Breakwater is a long east-west detached breakwater parallel to the coast between Ōsaka and Kōbe. Located at the west (Kōbe) end of the breakwater, marking the east side of the entrance to Kōbe. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1523; JCG-3631.1; Admiralty M5899.2; NGA 7430.
Nishinomiya Breakwater West End Light
Nishinomiya Breakwater West End Light, Nishinomiya, Kōbe
Japanese Coast Guard Fifth Region photo

Kōbe Harbor Lighthouses
Kōbe Kō (Breakwater Seven Northeast End)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); green flash every 3 s. 20 m (66 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Google has a satellite view. Kōbe Breakwater Seven is an east-west detached breakwater parallel to the coast protecting the harbor of Kōbe. One of the main entrances to Kōbe harbor is between this breakwater and the Nishinomiya Breakwater to the east. Located at the east end of the breakwater. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-269; JCG-3647.5; Admiralty M5867.2; NGA 7428.
Kōbe Breakwater Seven Southwest End
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); red flash every 3 s. 19 m (62 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is red. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the western end of Kōbe Breakwater Seven, which bends sharply southwestward to be parallel to the entrance channel. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1511; JCG-3647; Admiralty M5867; NGA 7424.
Kōbe Breakwater Six South End
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); green light occulting once every 4 s. 19 m (62 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Kōbe Breakwater Six is in two sections, one projecting eastward from Ohashi island and this one detached and directed southeastward parallel to the entrance channel. Located at the southeast end of the detached section, opposite the Breakwater Seven Southwest End lighthouse. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1510; JCG-3645.5; Admiralty M5866.3; NGA 7420.
Kōbe Breakwater Six East End
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); green flash every 3 s. 19 m (62 ft) round slightly hourglass-shaped concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Diana Grande has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Kōbe Breakwater Six is in two sections, one projecting eastward from Ohashi island and this one detached and directed southeastward parallel to the entrance channel. Located at the east end of the attached section, opposite the Breakwater Seven Southwest End lighthouse. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1509; JCG-3645; Admiralty M5866; NGA 7416.
Kōbe Breakwater Five
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); green flash every 5 s. 16 m (52 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Kōbe Breakwater Five is a detached breakwater that originally protected the Kōbe waterfront; now it is deep in the inner harbor, surrounded by artificial islands. Located at the east end of the breakwater. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. JCG-3650; Admiralty M5870; NGA 7436.
Kōbe Breakwater Four
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); red flash every 3 s. 15 m (49 ft) concrete post centered on a square concrete equipment shelter. Entire lighthouse is red. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on the south side of an opening in the breakwater, about 300 m (1000 ft) off the Mayafuto Quay of Kōbe harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1508; JCG-3659; Admiralty M5872; NGA 7448.
Kōbe Breakwater Three
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); two green flashes every 7 s. 19 m (62 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Kōbe Breakwater Three is a short detached breakwater near the northeastern corner of Ohashi island. At an earlier time this lighthouse probably marked the entrance to the inner harbor of Kōbe. Located at the east end of the breakwater. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1507; JCG-3661; Admiralty M5868; NGA 7452.
* Kōbe Breakwater Two
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); red light, 6 s on, 2 s off. 19 m (62 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is red. The lighthouse has unusual architectural details, as seen in the Coast Guard's photo at right. Nicki Kaoru has a photo, another photo and a 2007 photo are available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse and the next two mark the older entrance to Kōbe harbor on the west side of Osashi island. Located at the end of the breakwater, a short pier at the southwestern corner of Osashi island. This lighthouse appears to be accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1506; JCG-3664; Admiralty M5862; NGA 7456.
K
Kōbe Breakwater Two Light, Kōbe
Japanese Coast Guard Fifth Region photo
Kōbe Breakwater One South End
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); green light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 19 m (62 ft) round hourglass-shaped concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse painted white. A photo is available, the lighthouse is in the background of a second photo, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Kōbe Breakwater One is in two sections, both detached. Located at the south end of the southern section of the breakwater, which is directed southeastward parallel to the entrance channel. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. JCG-3665; Admiralty M5861; NGA 7460.
Kōbe Breakwater One East End
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); green light, 6 s on, 2 s off. 19 m (62 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse painted white; there are three large Japanese characters painted in black on the seaward side; the inscription is a blessing for the port, to protect it against typhoons. Kentaru Suda has a 2008 photo, Nicki Kaoru also has a photo, and Google has street view and a satellite view. Kōbe Breakwater One is in two sections, both detached. Located at the east end of the northern section of the breakwater, which is directed east to west. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1504; JCG-3666; Admiralty M5860; NGA 7464.
* Naka (Meriken Park Oriental Hotel)
1995. Active (privately maintained); focal plane 54 m (177 ft); flash every 5 s, alternately red and green. 5 m (16 ft) hexagonal skeletal tower with lantern, mounted atop a 16-story hotel building. Another photo is available, Kiso has a photo and a closeup of the lantern, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a pier in the inner harbor area north of the Breakwater One lights. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel. ARLHS JPN-1520; JCG-3633; Admiralty M5854; NGA 7408.
Kōbe Breakwater One East End Light
Kōbe Breakwater One East End Light, Kōbe
Japanese Coast Guard Fifth Region photo

Wadamisaki Lighthouses
Kōbe Breakwater One West End
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); red light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is red. Nicki Kaoru has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the west end of the detached Breakwater One, marking the entrance to Wadamisaki harbor on the west side of Kōbe. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1505; JCG-3667; Admiralty M5857.5; NGA 7472.5.
Wadamisaki (Wada) Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is white. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a short breakwater on the west side of the entrance to Wadamisaki harbor. Site status unknown. ARLHS JPN-1544; JCG-3668; Admiralty M5857; NGA 7472.
Kōbe
1884. Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); white flash every 8 s. 29 m (95 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. A 2013 photo and another photo are available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located a short distance west of Wadamisaki, in an industrial area. Site status unknown; the lack of photos on the Internet suggests the site may be closed to the public. ARLHS JPN-268; JCG-3669; Admiralty M5852; NGA 7476.

Nagata, Suma, and Tarumi Lighthouses
Nagata Kō
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); green light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Located on the breakwater on the west side of the entrance to Nagata harbor, an industrial basin. ARLHS JPN-1519; JCG-3672; Admiralty M5844; NGA 7488.
Suma Breakwater East Head
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); green flash every 3 s. 8.5 m (28 ft) round hourglass-shaped white concrete tower. Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located at the east end of a detached breakwater protecting the small boat harbor of Suma ward. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1537; JCG-3673; Admiralty M5843; NGA 7492.
* Wada Misaki (Wadamisaki) (2) (relocated)
1884 (station established 1871). Inactive. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) hexagonal cast iron pyramidal tower with lantern, gallery, enclosed watch room, central cylinder, and a hexagonal wood keeper's cottage at the base. Lighthouse painted red with white trim. Tomo Marusan's photo is at right, Lighthouses of Japan has a photo (bottom of the page), a 2007 photo and another photo are available, and Google has a satellite view and Hisatomo Tatsuki's street view. Forand has a postcard view of the lighthouse in service. This historic lighthouse was built on Wada Misaki, the point of land at the west end of Kōbe harbor; it replaced a wood lighthouse designed by Richard Henry Brunton. It has been relocated as a historic monument to the Suma seaside park, about 800 m (1/2 mi) west of the aquarium and 6 km (4 mi) west of the original location. Site open, tower closed.
** Suma (Outer Suma Tower)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); three white flashes, two short and one long, every 15 s. 19 m (62 ft) round observation building supported by pilings. The building is white. K. Maruyama has a view from shore, another view is available, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. This popular tower is built over a complex of public fishing piers. Located in Suma, a ward on the west side of Kōbe. Site and tower open. JCG-3674; Admiralty M5842.4; NGA 7496.
Hira Iso
1893. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); six quick white flashes followed by one lone white flash, every 15 s. 15 m (49 ft) round tower with lantern and double gallery, mounted on a solid conical base. Tower painted yellow, conical base painted black. The Coast Guard's photo is at the top of this page, Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with photos, Forand has a historic postcard view, and Google has Masutaka Mori's street view as well as a satellite view. This historic lighthouse is one of the oldest Japanese waveswept towers. The lighthouse marks a dangerous shoal in the eastern approach to the Akashi Strait, which separates the island of Awaji Shima from the mainland of Honshū. Located about 500 m (0.3 mi) offshore from Tarumi Ward, at the western edge of Kōbe City. Accessible only by boat, but there are good views from shore. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-782; JCG-3675; Admiralty M5840; NGA 7500.
Wada Misaki Light
Wada Misaki Light, Suma, Kōbe, March 2006
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Tomo Marusan
Tarumi Kō (South Breakwater East End)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); green flash every 3 s. 12 m (39 ft) round concrete tower, flared at the top and attached to a small equipment shelter. Entire lighthouse is white. No closeup photo available, but Google has a distant street view and a satellite view. Located at the east end of the detached breakwater protecting Tarumi harbor, about 3 km (2 mi) east of the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1543; JCG-3678; Admiralty M5838.6; NGA 7504.

Akashi City Lighthouses

* Akashi (Akasi) South Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); red light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 9 m (30 ft) round hourglass-shaped concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is red. K. Maruyama has a photo, another photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located at the end of the main east breakwater at Akashi, about 4 km (2.5 mi) west of the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. JCG-3822; Admiralty M5783; NGA 7652.
* Akashi (Akasi)
Date unknown. Inactive for many years. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) square pyramidal stone tower with a square stone lantern. Wikimedia has a photo, Forand has a historic postcard view, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This is a fairly well preserved example of a traditional Japanese harbor lighthouse. Located at the base of the Akashi west breakwater. Site open, tower closed.
Akashi (Akasi) Outer Harbor West Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 9 m (30 ft) round hourglass-shaped concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is white. A photo is available, the light is at the left in K. Comiida's photo at right, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located on the west mole at the entrance to the main harbor of Akashi. Site and tower closed. JCG-3823; Admiralty M5785; NGA 7656.
Akashi (Akasi) (East Breakwater)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); red light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 9 m (30 ft) round hourglass-shaped concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is red. K. Comiida's photo is at right, the light is at the far right in a photo of the harbor, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located at the end of the original east breakwater at Akashi. Accessible by walking the pier. Site status unknown. ARLHS JPN-012; JCG-3824; Admiralty M5784; NGA 7660.
Akashi Kō West Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); two green flashes every 6 s. 10 m (33 ft) concrete post centered on a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is white. This light is on the left in Google's street view, and Google also has a satellite view. Located on the west mole at the entrance to the main harbor of Akashi. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1483; JCG-3824.5; Admiralty M5782.8; NGA 7666.
Akashi Kō West Outer Breakwater
1970. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 8.5 m (29 ft) round hourglass-shaped concrete tower. Entire lighthouse is white. The second light seen in the photo is the West Breakwater light (previous entry). K. Comiida has another photo, this light is on the right in Google's street view, and Google also has a satellite view. Located actually on the east end of the west outer breakwater of Akashi. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1485; JCG-3825; Admiralty M5782.6; NGA 7664.
Akashi Kō Light
Akashi Kō Light, Akashi, January 2008
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by K. Comiida
* Eigishima (Eigashima) Kō
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); continuous green light with a more intense flash every 7 s. 10 m (33 ft) concrete post attached to a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is white. No closeup photo available, but Google has a distant street view as well as a satellite view. Located at the end of the west (main) breakwater of Eigishima, a small boat harbor on the west side of Akashi. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1489; JCG-3830; Admiralty M5781; NGA 7672.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: East: Ōsaka | South: Awaji Shima | West: Himeji Area

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Posted December 22, 2006. Checked and revised December 12, 2014. Lighthouses: 32. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.