A Complex Infrastructure that Breathed New Life into Kyoto

Lake Biwa Canal

In Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, there is a waterway, built in 1890, which continues to carry water from Lake Biwa into the city. This was part of a complex infrastructure project (including a waterway, power generation, and water transportation) designed to revive Kyoto as a modern industrial city after it began to fall into decline when the nation’s capital was transferred to Tokyo. Created entirely by Japanese people, the project produced a succession of Japanese technological firsts. Boldly, almost brutally, penetrating the grounds of a Zen Buddhist temple, the epitome of tradition and social status, the Nanzen-ji Aqueduct conveys the passion for change that pervaded the era.

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  • Lake Biwa Canal

    Otsu, Shiga Prefecture

    Kyoto Prefecture

    Sakuro Tanabe 

    1890

    Courtesy of Kyoto City Waterworks Bureau

  • Lake Biwa Canal

    Otsu, Shiga Prefecture

    Kyoto Prefecture

    Sakuro Tanabe 

    1890

    Courtesy of Kyoto City Waterworks Bureau