Lake Biwa Aqueduct

Sharing an interwoven bond of birth and rebirth

The stunning water surface of the Lake Biwa Aqueduct is one of the most charming aspect of the city of Kyoto in eastem part. The Lake Biwa Aqueduct and Kyoto University share strong historical connections.

The first historical connection dates back to the founding of Kyoto University about 100 years ago. Around that time there was a mood of despondency in Kyoto as the Meiji Restoration removed the capital, which had been in Kyoto for over 1000 years, to Tokyo. This led to a desire for Kyoto to be given a new identity as a city of education and culture and another was an active focus on bringing greater prosperity to the region. Part of this push was the initiative to establish Kyoto Imperial University, and another was the commencement of construction of a canal, which aimed to bring water from Lake Biwa, which is adjacent to the Higashiyama mountain range and revive the industry and economy of Kyoto. The person behind the design and construction of this remarkable feat was 21 year-old freshly graduated engineer Sakuro Tanabe, who became a professor at Kyoto Imperial University. The project was carried out in 1885, and canals were completed in 1912. The canal played an important role in the rebirth of the moderm Kyoto. "My grandfather loved large scale civil engineering projects. Evev after he became professor at the Kyoto Imperial University, he gladly traveled anywhere in Japan whenever he was invited to assist in large scale civil engineering projects." said grandson Mr. Yoichi Tanabe, who is a graduate of the Kyoto University and has become a civil engineer like his grandfather.

The second bond Kyoto University has with the Lake Biwa Aqueduct occurred after the Second World War. In 1949, Kyoto Imperial University restarted as Kyoto University and the nuclear physics laboratory, which had been closed by the Allied Forces, was also reopened at roughly the same time. In 1952, Kyoto University proposed to rebuild a cyclotron and the place chosen for its construction was Keage hydro-electric power plant, which used the water of the Lake Biwa Aqueduct. From 1955 until 1968, the heritage of canal construction assisted the growth of Kyoto University's nuclear physics research.

Kyoto University, Lake Biwa Aqueduct and the city of Kyoto, share in common both birth and rebirth. The various bonds that are formed between these three parties will surely continue to form an interwoven historty.

Due to a difference of elevation, boats were moved by canal incline near Keage. The restored boats, rail cart and tracks give a historic flavor to the area.
The former Keage Power Plant, which is the first hydroelectric power plant in Japan. (It is currently closed to the public.