Kudanzaka (Kudan Slope), Tokyo, c. 1910
“The regular records of lighthouses built before Japan was opened for foreign commerce were kept about two-hundred ninety-seven years previous to this . These lighthouses were mostly on pier heads or at the entrances of harbours or mouths of navigable rivers; and although many of them were for the purpose of promoting the interests of navigation, others were simply the marks of the Tax-collectors offices where junks and boats had to stop to pay duty. There were also lights kept by villagers for the guidance of their fishing boats.
“These marks were all very imperfect, in many cases being rude structures of wood surmounted by a lantern of wooden framework, covered by oil paper instead of panes of glass, and a small dish filled with vegetable or fish oil with a wick dipped in it serving as lamp; others were wood fires burnt on the sea coasts.
“In the year 1866 the Government on entering into treaties with foreign powers found the necessity of properly illuminating the coasts … These lighthouses were intended for the guidance of vessels coming from either way of the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean into our open ports.”
– A History of the Mercantile Marine in Japan, by the Mercantile Marine Bureau, 1898