This Tuesday report will present some insights into life for a westerner (me) who’s working for a number of months at Kyoto College in Japan.

The Biwa canal and hydro energy

I used to be wandering right down to the primary station in Kyoto early the opposite day to satisfy a pal coming from Tokyo and I noticed this outdated constructing that I had beforehand ignored.

This space is a pleasant a part of East Kyoto and runs alongside the canal because it comes down from the aquaduct to the Kamo River.

However first is the story of the – Lake Biwa Canal – which is a type of virtually inconceivable tales of human endeavour and sacrifice, though all of the ache was borne by the employees not the bosses (as regular).

The canal was constructed in the course of the – Meiji period (1868-1912) – which was a time of change in Japan from feudalism to a contemporary industrial state.

However the Meiji period noticed the switch of the Imperial capital to Tokyo and Kyoto fell into relative decline in each financial exercise and inhabitants.

It was determined to revitalise the native economic system by constructing a canal from Lake Biwa (to the north-east over the mountain vary) to Kyoto, which might not solely provide water for irrigation and trade but additionally function a transportation route.

Basically, they dug the canal by way of the mountain vary after which across the mountain alongside a collection of concrete channels.

When you’re out strolling or using on bikes, you come throughout the assorted parts of the canal everywhere in the Japanese facet of Kyoto.

The primary canal constructed runs for about 20 kms, whereas the second, that runs parallel goes for about 7.5 kms.

A 3rd department within the Sakyo Ward (close to Kyoto) goes for 3.3 kms.

Once they began constructing in 1885, it was labelled the ‘Canal of Hope’ – hopeful that it will restore the greatness of the town.

Round 4 million staff have been have interaction in breaking the rocks with their hand instruments and carrying the particles in handbaskets.

Tunnelling by way of the mountain was harmful in very poorly lit working surrounds.

Common flooding occurred and washed away the employees.

Many staff died within the development part.

There’s a lot extra to put in writing about this mission however you’ll find out extra at this website – The Lake Biwa Canal Story.

One of many revitalising sides of the canal was the hydro electrical plant that was erected the – Keage Energy Station – was the primary industrial hydro plan in Japan and it offered low cost energy to native trade in Kyoto.

It allowed for the introduction of the tram system and electrical lighting within the metropolis, which modified the lives of the residents considerably for the higher.

Which is what that outdated constructing above pertains to.

I had recognized a bit concerning the canal and its engineering feats however seeing the outdated constructing and the water speeding previous it down in direction of the river by way of the gates piqued my curiosity and I went in the hunt for extra data.

In truth this constructing is the – Ebisugawa Energy Plant (a part of the Kansai Energy system) is the second energy plant across the nook nearer to the river from the Keage plant.

Development started in November 1912 and was accomplished in April 1914.

The Ebisugawa Energy Station consists of 1 horizontal – Francis turbine – with one three-phase A.C. generator with an output of 280 kW.

The fascinating a part of this energy system was that when the second canal was constructed, they expanded the unique Keage Energy Station and used the water discharge from it to feed two different close by stations, one in all which was the Episugawa Station.

Whereas the Keage facility is a historic relic, the Episugawa Station nonetheless operates and was renovated in 1993.

In order that little story simply emerged from a wander previous a constructing that’s obscured by bushes and I don’t normally stroll or trip alongside that avenue.

Why this time?

A beneficial inexperienced mild meant I saved strolling fairly than ready to cross the place I sometimes go right down to the river!

Outdated Kyoto Shrine Kitchen and Museum

We have been out using our bikes final Sunday and our vacation spot was the – Shimogamo Shrine (
賀茂御祖神社(下鴨神社)- which is a Shinto Shrine located within the Tadasu-no-Mori forest simply previous the Y the place the Kamo and Takano rivers meet.

It was first constructed in 678.

It’s a fairly superb place and for the princely sum of 5,000 yen you’ll be able to go to the museum and the outdated kitchen.

Right here is the chilly retailer constructing structure with the storage space dug nicely beneath floor degree.

That is the chilly retailer constructing that’s hooked up to the kitchen.

One of many options of the buildings of this period was the way in which they thatched the roof covers with very skinny layers of birch wooden.

That is the shut up of the roof profile of the chilly retailer.


Listed below are the ovens that saved the cooking going. The kitchen is indifferent from the primary shrine buildings and accessed by way of a rock backyard.

And adjoining to the kitchen is the museum and these clogs took my consideration.

Think about strolling round in these items!

Later, as one does, I visited a rest room, and found that one has to buy bathroom paper by the sheet nonetheless!

Fortunately I used to be there for much less onerous functions and didn’t must get any cash out.

Right here is the signal and dispenser.

That’s sufficient for at the moment!

(c) Copyright 2023 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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