The Lake Biwa Canal Plan 1885-1890/ Three Major Canals in Japan

In Japan, the 400, 000 km waterways that the predecessors have built are laid out on a frontier of limitless length and breadth. Besides the Lake Biwa Canal, there are other two major water canal in Japan, which are Asaka Canal and Nasu Canal.

1. Asaka canal (1879-1882) is a canal that draws water from lake Inawashiro and then supplies agricultural, industrial, and drinking water to asaka plains in koriyama city, fukushima prefecture and its surrounding area.It is also used for hydroelectric power generation.

The most challenging part was the construction of a 585-meter long tunnel cutting through the Ou Mountain Range. The latest technologies such as dynamite, steam pumps and cement were used and the project was a great success. After three years of hard work, the approx. 130-kilometer long Asaka Canal was completed. Due to the land development, agriculture expanded rapidly and important new industrial opportunities such as hydroelectricity became possible [1].


2. Nasu Canal (1885): In 1885 (Meiji 18), due to the Meiji government ‘s aquaculture industry policy, the executives were excavated in a short period of about five months by local volunteers such as the prefectural ordinance Mishima Tsutsumi , Takeshi Yaita and Takesaku Inami.  In 1905 (Meiji 38), sluices and conduits were constructed. Nasuno draws water from the Iwasaki intake water in the Nakagawa River in the north of Hara and supplies agricultural water to the field. The supply area is about 4300 hectares, covering Nasushiobara City and Nasuno in Otawara City [2].

[1] Agricultural and rural development information center. “Water Base” (accessed December 4, 2019).


2 Comments on “The Lake Biwa Canal Plan 1885-1890/ Three Major Canals in Japan

  1. I am looking forward to knowing more about the current use of these rivers. It would be more interesting if you could explain more about these rivers in different perspectives.

  2. The historical photos are great and interesting! It is very nice to summarize the same kind of projects for further comparison and study. I would like to know more about the location of the canals (maybe shown on the maps) , and the scope of influence of each canal. Also, I would like to know the connection between the canal and urban planning, since the canals would change the natural environment of the area greatly. Were there any planning project related to the canals or happened around the influenced areas?

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