Kojo Moe (factory love) is a Japanese trend that emerged after the publication in 2007 of a photo book, Kojo Moe-F Background Reference Book, on heavy industry. The book has a guide to viewing different types of factories, from chemical plants to steel works, cement works and gantry cranes. Night-time factory viewing (Kojo Yakei) also forms a growing aspect of Japanese tourism, and private tour operators and city municipalities operate organised bus and boat tours to meet demand.
Kojo Yakei is promoted as a social experience, a night-out, and not as an educational or informational tour. Some cruises provide buffet dinners, others cocktails. What they all offer is a spectacle. An alternate son et lumière to the neon and electric cityscape. At night security lights, office lights, portacabin lights and perimeter lights illuminate industrial megastructures on a Blade Runner scale. Smoke rising from chimney stacks adds to the effect. On one boat tour in March it snowed but we still stood out on the deck trying to take as many photos as possible. Kojo Yakei offers what we in the West call the industrial sublime.
The boats tend to slow down and stop opposite particularly well-lit structures (sometimes accompanied by clapping and cheering) before bypassing dark factories for another illuminated colossus. It is difficult to take good photographs from a rocking, moving boat in low light. I spent much time on the first few tours experimenting with different camera settings and these sets of photos are mostly light strobed images or blurry shots. Very few take serious camera kit on these tours, but the boats slow down to enable participants to take photos, as best they can, with their smart phones, or to capture a factory selfie. The photography is an important element of the social experience of the tour.
Read more here
Orange, H. (2017) Flaming smokestacks: Night-time factory tourism in Japan. In the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology. Vol 4, 1: 59-72.