Lighthouses of Japan: Yamagata

This page lists lighthouses of Yamagata prefecture on the northwestern coast of Japan's largest island, Honshū. Yamagata faces west on the Sea of Japan. Most of the prefecture is inland; the coastline is about 60 km (38 mi) long. Sakata is the one major port.

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 usually one Coast Guard Section Office in each prefecture. Lighthouses of Yamagata Prefecture are maintained by the Sakata office.

A note on the Sea of Japan/East Sea controversy: The Directory takes no side in any international dispute; it makes use of the terminology, names, and spellings as they currently exist in each area covered. The sea between Japan and Korea is called the Sea of Japan on the pages for Japan and the East Sea on the pages for Korea.

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.

Nezugaseki Misaki Light
Nezugaseki (Benten Shima) Light, Nezugaseki
Japanese Coast Guard Sakata Office photo

General Sources
Lighthouses in Japan - Yamagata
A site providing photos and data for most major Japanese lighthouses.
Lighthouse of Japan - Yamagata
Another comprehensive site with photos and notes from visits to many lighthouses.
FOAL - Yamagata
Another site with many photos and notes from visits to lighthouses; cited below as FOAL.
Misty's Japanese Lighthouse Tour - Yamagata
Photos and brief notes in English for lighthouses in all parts of the country.
Kiso's Lighthouses
This site has many excellent photos of Japanese lighthouses.
Second District Lighthouse Photos - Yamagata
Photos posted by the Coast Guard Second Region office in Aomori. The region office also has an interactive map of the major lighthouses.
Sakata Office Aids to Navigation
An interactive map links to photos and information on the major lights of Yamagata.
Lighthouses in Yamagata Prefecture
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
Online List of Lights - Japan
Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Sakata North Breakwater Light
North Breakwater Light, Sakata, May 2010
Panoramio photo copyright mbingm; permission requested

Lighthouses of Yamagata Prefecture

Tsuruoka City Lighthouses
* Nezugaseki Kō (Benten Shima)
1925. Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); two white flashes every 7 s. 14 m (46 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. The photo from the Coast Guard's page is at the top of this page, Lighthouse of Japan has a page with good photos, FOAL's page also has good photos, Misty's Tour has additional photos, the Coast Guard has a sunset photo and a more distant view, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse is located on Benten Shima, a wedge-shaped island that has been connected to the mainland by a causeway separating the two halves of the harbor. Accessible by a paved pathway. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-408; JCG-1363; Admiralty M7088; NGA 3428.
* Nezugaseki Kō West Breakwater
1962. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); continuous red light with a more intense flash every 5 s. 11 m (36 ft) concrete post rising from a a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse painted red. FOAL has a photo (halfway down the page), and Google has a satellite view. Lighthouse of Japan also has photos of the similar but smaller light, painted white, on the north breakwater. Located at an elbow of the original west breakwater of Nezugaseki. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1181; JCG-1364; Admiralty M7088.4; NGA 3432.
Ryūtōan Shima
1955. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); two white flashes every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) round concrete tower with a small lantern, mounted on a conical stone base. Lighthouse painted black with a red horizontal band. The Coast Guard's page has the photo at right, FOAL has additional photos (lower half of the page), Lighthouses of Japan has a distant view, Misty's Tour has a small photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on a reef about 1 km (0.6 mi) off Hato Saki. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-2637; JCG-1366; Admiralty M7087.9; NGA 3444.
Ryūtōan Shima Light
Ryūtōan Shima Light, Nezugaseki
Japanese Coast Guard Sakata Office photo
* Hato Saki
1955. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 10 m (33 ft) concrete post rising from a a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is white. Lighthouse of Japan has a page with several good photos, the Coast Guard's page has a good photo, FOAL's page has photos, Misty's Tour also has a photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located on a promontory about 8 km (5 mi) north of Atsumi. National route 7 passes close to the light; parking provided. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-091; JCG-1367; Admiralty M7087.8; NGA 3440.
Yura Kō Outer Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); two red flashes every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) round concrete tower with a flared top. Entire lighthouse is red. Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Located on a detached breakwater protecting Yura harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. JCG-1370.2; Admiralty M7087.35; NGA 3456.1.
* Ara Saki (Arasaki) (2)
1953 (station established 1903). Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); white flash every 5 s. 12 m (39 ft) concrete post rising from a a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is white. A photo is at right, the Coast Guard's page has a good photo, a 2005 photo is available, Lighthouse of Japan has a page with good photos, the FOAL page has photos, Wikimedia has a photo, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. The lighthouse is adjacent to the Kamo Aquarium, known especially for its large collection of jellyfish. Located on a promontory at Kamo, about 10 km (6 mi) west of Tsuruoka. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-024; JCG-1371; Admiralty M7087; NGA 3460.
* Kamo Kō (Arasaki) Inner Breakwater (?)
1962. Inactive since 2015 and probably removed. This was an 8.5 m (28 ft) concrete post attached to a square 1-story concrete equipment shelter. Entire lighthouse is red. FOAL has additional photos (lower half of the page) taken in 2014, and Google has a 2012 street view and a satellite view. Located at the end of the short west inner breakwater, a short distance east of the Kamo Aquarium. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1174; ex-JCG-1373; ex-Admiralty M7087.2; ex-NGA 3468.
* Kamo Kō (Arasaki) North Breakwater
1968. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 10 m (33 ft) concrete post attached to a square 1-story concrete equipment shelter. Entire lighthouse is white. FOAL has a photo (2/3 the way down the page) and Google has a 2012 street view and a satellite view. Located at the end of the north (main) breakwater of Kamo harbor. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1175; JCG-1372; Admiralty M7087.1; NGA 3464.

Ara Saki Light, Kamo, May 2016
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by 掬茶

Sakata City Lighthouses
Note: Built at the mouth of the Mogami River, Sakata is the only major port in Yamagata Prefecture. The city has a population of about 110,000.
Sakata Kō South Breakwater
1989. Reactivated (inactive 2010-2014); focal plane 17 m; two red flashes every 5 s. 16 m (52 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted red. FOAL's page has photos (2/3 the way down the page), a closeup photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. When the breakwater was extended in 2010 the lighthouse was deactivated in favor of a small light at the end of the extension. In 2014 the lighthouse was relocated to the end of the breakwater and reactivated. Located on the south breakwater at the mouth of the Mogami River in Sakata, the principal port of Yamagata Prefecture. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1183; JCG-1374; Admiralty M7084.5; ex-NGA 3480.
Sakata Kō North Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); two green flashes every 7 s. 14 m (46 ft) round white concrete tower with lantern and gallery. A 2010 photo is at the top of this page, the Coast Guard Second District has a more distant view, FOAL has additional photos (halfway down the page), and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the north breakwater at the mouth of the Mogami River in Sakata. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-530; JCG-1375; Admiralty M7083; NGA 3484.
* Sakata (1) (relocated)
1895. Inactive since 1958 (a decorative light is displayed). Approx. 8 m (26 ft) hexagonal pyramidal wood tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. A photo is at right, another excellent photo is available, FOAL has photos (near the bottom of the page), additional photos and a 2018 photo are available, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, and Google has a satellite view. Claimed to be Japan's oldest wooden light, this historic lighthouse was built on the south side of the Mogami River entrance. In 2006 it was completely restored and relocated to a hilltop in Hiyoriyama Park, a city park on the north side of the river entrance in downtown Sakata. Parking provided. Site open, tower closed.
Old Sakata Light
1895 Sakata Light, Sakata, June 2010
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by gaopi
* Sakata Groin
1979. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); red light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 11 m (36 ft) square tapered skeletal tower, painted red. Shuichi Ono has a photo, FOAL has additional photos (4/5 the way down the page), and Google has a satellite view. Located on a short groin at the entrance to the inner north harbor basin of Sakata, about 500 m (0.4 mi) north of the new lighthouse. Apparently accessible by walking the groin. Site open, tower closed. JCG-1381; Admiralty M7082.5; NGA 3476.
**** Sakata (3)
2000 (station established 1895). Active; focal plane 41 m (135 ft); white flash every 8 s. 30 m (98 ft) square building with a lantern on the roof and a large enclosed observation deck wrapping around the seaward side about 3/4 of the way up. The building is white. A Coast Guard photo is at right, FOAL has photos, Misty's Tour has two photos, Lighthouses of Japan also has a photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. According to tourist agency sources, since 1999 the building has been open to the public free of charge except during the winter, and the observation deck is the perfect place for watching the sun sink into the Sea of Japan. Located on filled land on the Sakata waterfront. Site open, tower open daily in season. ARLHS JPN-529; JCG-1380; Admiralty M7082; NGA 3472.
* Sakata (2) (?)
1958. Inactive since 2000. 11m (36 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Lighthouses in Japan has photos (second and third photos on the page), and the Coast Guard has a photo. The location of this lighthouse is unknown; it has probably been demolished. Site apparently open, tower closed.
Sakata Light
2000 Sakata Light, Sakata
Japanese Coast Guard Sakata Office photo (no longer online)

Yuza Town Lighthouses
* Ugo Misaki
1960. Active; focal plane 68 m (223 ft); two white flashes every 7 s. 10.5 m (35 ft) concrete post rising from a a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is white. Lighthouse of Japan has a page with good photos, FOAL has a page with good photos, the Coast Guard's page also has good photos, and Google has a satellite view. A more substantial building is shown in a 2002 photo, but we're not sure its location is specified correctly. Located on a promontory about 25 km (15 mi) north of Sakata, just south of the border between Yamagata and Akita prefectures. Accessible by a short walk, and parking is available, but the location is not marked. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-710; JCG-1383; Admiralty M7077; NGA 3496.
Tobi Shima Kō Middle Breakwater
1962. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); red flash every 3 s. 8.5 m (28 ft) concrete post rising from a a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is red. The Coast Guard's photo also shows the south breakwater light, FOAL has photos, and Google has a satellite view. Tobi Shima is an island in the Sea of Japan about 40 km (25 mi) northwest of Sakata. Very popular with birders, the island has a population of about 300 and is accessible by ferry from Sakata. Located at the south end of the middle breakwater of Tobi Shima's harbor. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1044; JCG-1385; Admiralty M7076.3; NGA 3508.
Tobi Shima Kō South Breakwater
1968. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); green flash every 3 s. 8.5 m (28 ft) round concrete tower with a flared top, attached to a small 1-story concrete equipment shelter. The Coast Guard's photo also shows the middle breakwater light, FOAL has photos, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the original end of the south breakwater of Tobi Shima's harbor. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-1045; JCG-1386; Admiralty M7076.2; NGA 3512.
* Tobi Shima (2)
Date unknown (station established 1948). Active; focal plane 82 m (269 ft); white flash every 10 s. 14 m (46 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower with lantern and gallery, connected to a small equipment building or keeper's house. The photo from the Coast Guard's page is at right, FOAL has a page with good photos, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view of the station. Lighthouses in Japan has a photo of the original lighthouse taken about 1996; we do not know why or exactly when the lighthouse was replaced. Located on the highest point of the island. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-657; JCG-1387; Admiralty M7076; NGA 3504.
Tobishima Light
Tobi Shima Light
Japanese Coast Guard Sakata Office photo

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Akita | South: Niigata

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Posted August 15, 2006. Checked and revised January 13, 2019. Lighthouses: 18. Site copyright 2019 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.