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Hyogo: 19th Century Lighthouse Moved to Make Room for New Infrastructure

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A wooden part of Imazu Todai lighthouse is moved onto its stone foundation in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, with a floodgate seen in the background.

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo — A 19th-century lighthouse was recently moved more than 100 meters to make room for new disaster prevention infrastructure in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.

Sake brewing has been a major industry in Nishinomiya for hundreds of years, and the lighthouse, named Imazu Todai, was built for the safety of ships transporting sake during the Edo period (1603-1867). The lighthouse, 7.5 meters tall excluding its stone foundation, is the oldest functioning wooden lighthouse in Japan and has been designated as an important cultural asset by the city government.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Imazu Todai is seen in 2017.

The Hyogo prefectural government built a floodgate and drainage pump station near the lighthouse to minimize tsunami damage in the event of a major Nankai Trough earthquake. With the floodgate completed, the lighthouse had to be relocated as its original location was set to become a water channel.

The stone foundation was disassembled and each of the approximately 150 blocks numbered. It was reassembled at the new location about 160 meters away.

The wooden part of the lighthouse, which weighs approximately three tons, was transported by crane and barge without being disassembled. On Dec. 19, it was placed on the reassembled stone foundation.

The prefectural government says it will develop a park around the lighthouse. It has stopped lighting in August 2023 for the relocation, but in April 2024, will return to a functioning lighthouse.