Japan’s tallest lighthouse is also one of the world’s oldest.
Japan’s tallest masonry lighthouse and ranked in the top 100 historic lighthouses in the world, Hinomisaki Lighthouse is one of the more unique sites in Shimane Prefecture. Situated in a quaint fishing village overlooking the rugged coastal terrain, this iconic guidepost towers 43 meters in height – 63 meters above sea level – and has been aiding maritime navigation since 1903.
Aside from its towering height, this architectural monument also possesses one of the largest lenses throughout the Japanese archipelago (2.5 meters in length) with a light reaching out to mariners 20 nautical miles away (approximately 40 kilometers). On a clear day, visitors can observe the remote Oki Islands – once the grim port of exile for political prisoners.
After ascending the spiraling staircase, keep a steady grasp on your camera as you take in the scenery of steeply dipping strata and colossal cliffs jetting out to sea. With a name that translates to “a land protected by clouds”, the weather along Cape Hinomisaki can be fickle so be prepared to stand up against strong winds on the observation deck.
Once on deck, watch the sky for a flock of soaring gulls. The breeding ground for the black-tailed gull is on an uninhabited island (well, more like a giant boulder) called Fumishima. At sunset, the silhouette of these seagulls – coined umi-neko or “sea-cats” in Japan is perfectly photogenic.