Kobe wishes you a safe voyage

Ross Hall

November 8, 2021
(Updated on November 7, 2021)

Black and white photograph of the signal tower in Kobe Harborland against a cloudy sky with the flags signalling Kobe Wishes you a Safe Voyage

For decades ships arriving at the port of Kobe were greeted by the most sophisticated signal tower in East Asia. Humans still put the right flag on the lanyard and ran it up, guiding ships in and out of the bustling docks. Yet at its heart was this amazing new technology: an elevator. As far as I can tell it was irrelevant to its operation, but it got bragging rights.

By the 1990s flags were going the way of the Dodo as the Wireless became the defacto standard for communicating from shore to ship. The signal tower was decommissioned, but what to do with this once-marvel of the maritime world?

The answer was to move it to its current location in Harborland, an open public space now home to a massive shopping mall and restaurants galore.

(And if you look closely, the submarine pens at Kawasaki)

She still signals today, although I wonder how many people take notice of her flags, or their meaning.

“Kobe wishes you a safe voyage”.

I'm Ross, a digital editorial designer and content creator from the UK now living in Japan. I help growing companies plan, source, produce and promote a range of content. Find out more

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