Transformation during the construction of Lake Biwa Canal 5: Urban Development Influenced by the Canal

This section explaining the nearby urban development related to the Canal.

5.1 Okazaki Area: Created a large and rich waterfront surface

The final LBC plan attempted to reduce the travel time for shipping by adopting technology such as locks. After the adoption of incline railway system in 1887, the Outo Canal was planned to run straight west from the end of the incline as shown in the following figures.


(Outo Canal in Okazaki Area)

(Different Transformations of the water route in Okazaki Area)

(The canal form a large waterfront surface for the urban area)

Besides the route of directly go straight toward west, there is an alternative route which took the shortest slant route proposed by the manager of the LBC, Noriyoshi Sakamaoto in 1888. However, Mr. Kitagaki rejected the slant route plan and he said in the conference “In the future, we think Okazaki district will experience urban development. And the slant route didn’t suit the master plan of city because it created a triangle site.”

Later on, Dr. Tanabe said that “Kyoto didn’t have a large water surface. So, if the Outo Canal had a 36 meters channel, it would become a rich waterfront place for citizens.”  Therefore, Outo Canal, which was designed for shipping in an urban area produced a rich waterfront area. In the end, this area was used for boating and played an essential role in the fourth exposition of domestic industry in 1895.


5.2 Along the Canal Branch: enhanced neighborhood quality of life

The final route of the LBC is divided into a main shipping channel and a branch of irrigation and water mills.After 1889, hydroelectric power replaced the need for water mills, and the canal branch functions was strictly focused on irrigation. Therefore, the branch of LBC becomes the human-scale flow, which is different from other channels of LBC. This branch is used for irrigation, and for fire prevention in the gardens of houses and temples near Higashiyama mountain. The branch of LBC improves the quality of life of nearby residents because the waterway is no longer used for shipping or to producing hydropower.


(LBC branch route)

(Fire Prevention Water testing in the temple using water from LBC branch)


[1] 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.
[2] Kyoto City Supply and Sewage Bureau. The Lake Biwa Canal Project Summary. Kyoto: Kyoto City Supply and Sewage Bureau, 1987.
[3] 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.
[4]“琵琶湖疏水と蹴上インクライン 解説” YouTube video, 18:07, posted by “daizine sir,” October 17, 2019,

2 Comments on “Transformation during the construction of Lake Biwa Canal 5: Urban Development Influenced by the Canal

  1. It is interesting to know that the large scale infrastructure LBC project has a human-scale branch flow which helps the nearby neighborhood to improve their life quality. Another point I would like to raise up is that from Transformation during the construction of Lake Biwa Canal 2: Controversy before the Construction, you mention controversial opinions from Kyoto citizens living in remote areas, and they think they get no merit but heavy tax load. Maybe it’s even better to mention their opinions after the construction of the project.

  2. Highly striking and detailed analysis, accompanied with historical documents and images. Keep up the good work! The significance of infrastructure development, even down to fire safety consideration, clearly gave shape to the city of Kyoto.

    PS. Please provide the original dates and citations of all images, plans and diagrams. Some of the images did not load fully, so please check to ensure they were properly uploaded.

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