Teizan Canal, 46.6 km in total length, is Japan’s longest canal built along Sendai Bay, connecting the mouth of the Old Kitakami River and the mouth of the Abukuma River. The first section of the canal, which connected Matsushima Bay and the Abukuma River, was constructed in 1597 by the order of Date Masamune. After his death, the extension works were continued. The canal was named after Masamune’s Buddhist name.
Until the end of the 19th century, boats and ships were the main means of transportation in Japan. After the Meiji restoration (1868), Home Minister, Okubo Toshimichi, asked the governors of the 6 prefectures in the Tohoku region about what they most needed. As a result, he concluded that construction of the canal to connect the Kitakami River, the main artery of the region, and the Abukuma River was indispensable for transporting rice. The construction was completed in 1884.
Today, it is used as an agricultural waterway and functions as a part of fishing ports. In the area along the canal from the Nanakita River to the Natori River spreads a fine seaside park, where a beautiful pine grove continues and a cycling road is equipped.
Handa City located in the center of Chita Peninsula in the south of Aichi Prefecture had been a flourishing port town since the Edo period (1603-1868). Storehouses along the canal are still in use today and make a fine townscape.
Handa Spring Dashi (Float) Festivals, which proud 200-year history, are held in 10 districts of Handa City from early in March to late in May every year, and Handa Dashi Festival is held in October once every 5 years, gathering 31 valiant floats in the city at one place.
The 1st Handa Dashi Festival was held in May in 1979, and then the 2nd was held in 1987 as the 50th anniversary event of the city. Since then the festival has been held in October once every 5 years to this day.
Decorated with gorgeous tapestries and elaborate carvings, the floats valiantly march throughout the city, heading for the festival site. The scene of the all 31 floats gathering at one place is overwhelmingly impressive.
Many other fascinating events such as the folk performing art show, the citizens’ parade and the local product fair are held all through the city. During the two-day festival period, the whole town is filled with enthusiastic festival mood under the autumn sky.
A lock is a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. It has a fixed chamber whose water level can be varied.
Ishii Locks are located at the junction of Kitakami Canal and the Kitakami River in Mizuoshi, Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. It was constructed to adjust the water level of the canal. These brick-made classic locks were designed by Cornelis Johannes van Doorn, one of foreign advisors hired by the Japanese government for their specialized knowledge, by the order of Home Minister, Okubo Toshimichi, and was completed in 1880.
It is a representative remaining structure of Nobiru Port, which was planned and constructed by the Meiji government as the transportation base to develop the Tohoku region. It is also an earliest example of modern locks that were constructed all over the country from the Meiji to Taisho periods. Its historical value in civil engineering technology was highly esteemed and it was nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Lake Biwa Canal running through Enjoji-cho, Otsu City, Shiga Pref. is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot. As contrasted to other cherry blossom viewing spots like Kiyomizudera Temple, which is crowded with tourists, cherry trees along this canal are loved by the local people. Lake Biwa Canal was built during the Meiji period to transport freight and passengers from Lake Biwa to Kyoto. As of today the canal is mainly used for water supply for Kyoto citizens. Okazaki Canal running through Okazaki area, where the Great Torii Gate of Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, and Kyoto City Zoo are located, is also known as a fine cherry tree viewing spot. Now river cruises in a Jukkoku-bune, a reproduced old-fashioned wooden houseboat, can be enjoyed in Okazaki area. The line of cherry trees in full bloom in April is an exquisite view. The cherry blossoms along Lake Biwa Canal provide us with the feeling of the spring.
Ogata Iro is a watercourse that was once used for irrigation and that passes through the town of Ogata in Oita Prefecture.
The upper part of Ogata Iro was constructed in 1645 and the lower part in 1671, giving the watercourse its present shape. This agricultural watercourse was a lifeline from the mid-Edo period to the 1960s as it irrigated the fields belonging to the Ogata clan.
At one time the watercourse became polluted with domestic waste, but following a cleanup program in 1985, it even became a place used by children for swimming from the 1990s. Also, after the cleanup, fireflies started to appear. The watercourse and the watermill create a refreshing watery scene.
It would be considered too easy to dismiss passages for water as 'canals' or 'channels'. If there is a passage for water, and if I found it, would I ever regard it as something that 'guides water'?
Since there is gravity on earth, water always moves from high places to low places. Sometimes that movement attracts people. As for water born in the high mountains, it might show us its dynamism as a waterfall in some places. This water would then become a large, quietly flowing river, where we could see fish play through that clear lens.
Water guides us humans, and ends up at the place called the ocean. There are many different forms of life in the ocean. Once upon a time, we used to be a lifeform that belonged to the ocean.
Otaru has been Hokkaido’s main port since the Meiji period. During the Bunka era (1804-1818), Otaru flourished with herring fishing. In 1893, development of a canal, began due to the increase of ships and cargos involved in the herring industry. After many twists and turns, the Otaru Canal was finally completed in September 1923. In those days, there were more than 400 barges and, from far and wide, their lively sound could be heard. At the beginning of the Showa period, Sapporo, which was linked to Otaru started to rapidly develop and traffic on the Otaru Canal declined. By 1955, the number of barges in the canal had decreased to about 100. In 1966, the Otaru Harbor Line Road was completed and an order was passed for the reclamation of the Otaru Canal. However, many people were against the order, which was disputed for16 years. In the end, half the southern side of the canal was redeemed. Today, stone warehouses have been turned into shops and museums and the gas lamps built along the canal romantically illuminate the water of the Otaru Canal.