“Factory night views” or “kojo yakei” has become a widespread aesthetic trend among many tourists in Japan. At night, certain factories transform from Industrial agglomerations to glowing displays, creating sceneries akin to the worlds of cyberpunk and science fiction. Among them, the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex in Mie Prefecture’s Yokkaichi City is a hugely popular destination. This article will tell you all you need to know about the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex, and about some great factory night view photography spots.
About the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex
View of Yokkaichi Industrial Complex in the daytime
The Yokkaichi Industrial Complex is located facing the ocean in northern Mie prefecture. It is a part of the Chukyo Industrial Area, which straddles Aichi, Gifu and Mie prefectures.
What is the Chukyo Industrial Area?
Chukyo Industrial Area is one of Japan’s three major industrial areas, alongside the Keihin Industrial Area of Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefectures, and the Hanshin Industrial Area of Kobe and Osaka Prefectures.
The Chukyo Industrial Area is known for the fossil fuels industry in Yokkaichi City of Mie Prefecture, as well as car manufacturing in Toyota City and steel manufacturing in Tokai City, both of which are in Aichi Prefecture.
Toyota Motor Corporation's main factory in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture
The area is also home to famous traditional crafts, such as pottery from Seto City (Aichi Prefecture), casting ware from Kuwana City (Mie Prefecture) and cutlery from Seki City (Gifu Prefecture).
What is the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex?
The Yokkaichi Industrial Complex is the first petrochemical industrial complex in Japan. A part of the Yokkaichi Bay area was reclaimed to create the complex.
A petrochemical complexes is a place producing many different products out of petroleum, such as synthetic rubber, surface active agents and plastic.
The factories are all connected by pipelines, creating a system to efficiently transport goods and products.
Yokkaichi Industrial Complex’s pipelines
The complex began operations in 1959. The concentration of petroleum-related industry contributed to post-war Japan’s rapid economic growth.
Some remember the industrial complex by the public health hazard it posed; gas emissions pumped out from the factory permeated into the surrounding areas, causing a respiratory condition known as "Yokkaichi asthma".
Chimney on one of the factories
It was due to legislative regulations on hazardous gas emissions, and corporate efforts towards less hazardous industrial technology, that Yokkaichi was able to regain its clean air.
Rise of factory night views
In the past decade, the popularity of "factory night views" has increased rapidly.
The powerful display of industrial architecture, smoking chimneys, and maze-like pipework combine into an imposing, industrial scenery that captivated many people. So much so, that the word “Kojo-moe” (Factory-love) was born from the trend.
Photographs of these factory night views were disseminated through social media and blogs, as well as through specialized photo books.
In particular, the night views of the factories in Yokkaichi, Muroran (Hokkaido), Kawasaki (Kanagawa) and Kitakyushu (Fukuoka) have been called Japan’s four major factory night views, and attract many tourists to their sights.
Muroran’s factory night view
4 Spots for the best views of the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex!
In the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex, one of Japan's most popular destinations for lovers of "factory night views", there are many sceneries that tickle the photography within. The next section will be an introduction to 4 such locations, that give especially great views of the factory at night.
1. Yokkaichi Port Building "Umiterasu 14:
Yokkaichi Port Building
The first spot is Umiterasu 14, an observatory located inside Yokkaichi Port Building.
Since there are not many spots with a high elevation in Yokkaichi, this is the only place where you can see the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex from above.
In 2014, the view from Umiterasu 14 was designated as a Japan Night View Heritage Site.
Umiterasu 14 is located on the highest floor of the building, on the 14th floor.
Inside Umiterasu 14
From a height of 90 m, Umiterasu 14 gives a full view of the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex.
The inside of Umiterasu 14 is lit dimly, which emphasizes the lights of the industrial complex outside.
View from Umiterasu 14
In addition to that, Umiterasu 14 has taken measures to support your photography experience. Have you ever tried to take a picture through a window at night, and been frustrated by the reflections in the glass?
Umiterasu 14 has you covered on that front. The reception rents out black curtains for free, for you to block the lights from behind. The curtains are equipped with suction cups to be attached to the windows. Tripods are also available.
Be sure to take this chance, and capture plenty of photographs to remember the factory night view by.
Umiterasu 14 is indoors, making it an ideal viewpoint regardless of the weather. It is also fully equipped with restrooms and vending machines, and will be a great place for you to comfortably enjoy the night views of Yokkaichi Industrial Complex.
2. Taisho Bridge Area
View from Taisho Bridge
Next on the list is the area around Taishobashi Bridge, located along national highway 23.
From here you can command a complete view of the petroleum factories, whose towering demeanor gives the impression of a fortress.
Get to the small road between Mitaki River and Showa Denko Gas Products’ factory for a brilliant view!
The lights of the factory reflect on the river surface, adding even more illumination to the scenery.
3. Showa Yokkaichi Sekiyu Factory
View from Showa Yokkaichi Sekiyu Factory
The Showa Yokkaichi Sekiyu Factory locates by the mouth of the Suzuka River. From the road on the southern side of the factory, you can see a beautiful view of the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex.
From here, you will be looking up at the factory from up-close, making its presence even more powerful and imposing. The factory continues to operate through the night, and at that distance, you will be able to clearly hear the ambient sounds of machinery.
4. Yokkaichi Dome
Many events, including soccer games and concerts, are held at Yokkaichi dome. This dome is also a popular viewpoint of the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex.
In front of the dome is a 200-meter long canal, and from there, you will have a full view of the round gas tanks and factories of the industrial complex.
Factory night view of Yokkaichi Industrial Complex, seen from around Yokkaichi Dome
The factory lights reflect on the canal’s waters for a beautiful, dreamy view.
The area is part of the Kasumiga-ura Ryokuchi Park, and is equipped with lamps that keep it lit at night. With a reassuring amount of light coverage, you can have a great time admiring the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex's night views.
The area stays well-lit at night.
Yokkaichi Port Night Cruise
Yokkaichi Port Night Cruise (Photo credit: Yokkaichi Tourism Association)
The next spot on the list isn't like the others. Instead of being a great viewpoint of the factory, this one is a boat cruise to view the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex that is also greatly popular.
There are three cruises to choose from: the 60-minute cruise, 90-minute cruise and event cruise. You can choose your preferred cruise plan to fit your budget and schedule.
View from the cruise ship
The cruise does not just offer a great view of the factory. The on-board volunteer guide is a former employee of the industrial complex, and will give detailed commentary on the factories, their history, and other anecdotes to remember the place by.
The cruises are held on Saturdays and certain Fridays. During the winter, they are only held on Saturdays.
Check out the Yokkaichi Port Night Cruise official website for more details.
Visit Yokkaichi Industrial Complex for a unique night view experience!
Yokkaichi Industrial Complex has a distinct history, a beautiful night view, and plenty of photogenic view points for you to visit. If you ever feel want to visit a night view a little off the beaten path, this might be your next destination! Just watch out for traffic and restricted areas, and you are sure to have a great experience with the night views of Yokkaichi Industrial Complex.
1-1-56, Yasujima, Yokkaichi-shi, Mie