Transformation during the construction of Lake Biwa Canal 3: Before the construction of the Lake Biwa Canal

3.1 Water Supply Plan before the Lake Biwa Canal

In fact, there are some water supply plans before the Lake Biwa Canal, while all of them were unsuccessful due to the technical problems. This section describes the historical materials regarding the plans to divert water from Lake Biwa to Kyoto prior to the actual plan of the Lake Biwa Canal.

For example, in 1841, Hikosuke, a farmer living in Saiou-ji Mibu area in Kyoto requested a water supply plan to the court of Kyoto.

(Water Supply Plan proposed in 1841)

 

3.2 Four Routes of Water ways

In general, there are totally 12 plans for supplying water from Lake Biwa to Kyoto before the Lake Biwa Canal and they can be analyzed into four types of routes showing in the below diagram, which are route A, B, C, D. The water supply plan proposed in 1841 can be categorized into the type C route. There are different technical problems explaining the fail reason of each routes.

A-route was older than the others by one hundred years, and its total distance for construction and for transportation was too long. B-route required super-long tunnel. Thus, it is supposed that both of these plans could not realized by the technology available in those days. As for the route C and D,  the degree of grade from Lake Biwa to Kyoto based on the surveying data at the time of construction was too sharp for water systems.

Although all these routes were unaccessible at that time, these plans expressive of the inhabitants’ greatest wishes for the future, and show the city of Kyoto’s strong need for water from Lake Biwa and the strong social movement for its acquisition. They becomes the foundation of the birth of the Lake Biwa Canal.

 

Reference:
[1] Kyoto Shimbun. 琵琶湖疏水の100年. [One Hundred Years History of Lake Biwa Canal]. Kyoto. Kyoto: Kyoto City Supply and Sewage Bureau, 1990.
[2] Kyoto City Supply and Sewage Bureau. The Lake Biwa Canal Project Summary. Kyoto: Kyoto City Supply and Sewage Bureau, 1987.
[3] Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. 京都岡崎の文化的景観調査報告書 [Kyoto Okazaki Area Cultural and Landscape Survey Report]. Kyoto: Culture and Citizens Affairs Bureau, 2013.
[4] Tanabe Sakuro. 京都都市計画. 第1編: 琵琶湖疏水誌 [City Planning of Kyoto: Summary of the Lake Biwa Canal]. Tokyo: Maruzen Group, 1920.
[5] Tanabe Sakuro. 琵琶湖疏水工事圖譜 [A Plan for Lake Biwa Canal Construction]. Tanabe Sakuro, 1891.

2 Comments on “Transformation during the construction of Lake Biwa Canal 3: Before the construction of the Lake Biwa Canal

  1. Water is really important for daily life. This basic need was the key issue of planning in many countries. By reading your narrative, I could feel the struggles of water supply planning that Japan had had before the Lake Biwa Canal project was launched. You keep mentioning about the failures of the previous projects so I am wondering what they are. Maybe you could add some photos and points to explain a bit about them.

  2. Fresh water supply is indeed very important for an island country like Japan. In addition to measures such as transport by freshwater lakes, has the government ever tried to use sea water resources and why did it give up?

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