International Dark Sky Community
Bisei Town, Ibara, Okayama
Bisei Town, part of Ibara City, located in the southwestern part of Okayama Prefecture, is an administrative district with a long history and many achievements in light pollution prevention, including enacting Japan’s first Light Pollution Prevention Ordinance in 1989. The name Bisei comes from the first letters of the names of two rivers that run through the town — the Miyama River and the Hoshida River — which translates to “town of beautiful stars.” There is a legend that three shooting stars fell in the town a long time ago, and shrines were built at each of those sites to worship the stars.
The town has several observing facilities, including the Bisei Astronomical Observatory, the Bisei Space Guard Center, and Hoshizora (Star-watching) Park. Bisei Town’s commitment to educating residents and visitors about the importance and value of night skies spans decades. Their experiences helped develop educational materials and events designed for people of all ages, ranging from programs for elementary students to salons for the elderly in the community.
Bisei Town also fulfills its commitment to protecting the night sky by working with external partners. These close relationships include the Tourism Association of Bisei Town and the IDA Tokyo Chapter. Additionally, in January 2020, Ibara City partnered with Panasonic to produce a dark-sky friendly product that is now certified by IDA’s Fixture Seal of Approval program. With this partnership, all public outdoor lighting in the town has been replaced with lighting fixtures that meet IDA’s standards. Due to the community’s values and diligence to protect their night skies, Bisei Town will be certified as the first IDSC not only for the nation of Japan, but for all Asia.
Click here to find ideal environmental conditions for viewing the night sky in Bisei Town in Ibara City (34.672172, 133.544774). Don’t forget to plan your trip during the new moon and astronomical twilight to enhance the viewing experience!