Lake Biwa Canal

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is a waterway in Japan built during the Meiji Period to transport water, freight, and passengers from Lake Biwa to the nearby City of Kyoto.This waterway was also used as Japan's first hydroelectric power generator, which served to provide electricity for Kyoto's trams.

As of 2008, the waterway is not used so much to generate electricity, but rather for water supply, fire-fighting and irrigation purposes.


The waterway takes water from the lake in Ōtsu, Shiga and flows into Kyoto through tunnels under the mountains. Between the two cities, the canal has two routes, the and the .

Due to the 36 meter difference in elevation between the upstream dam and the Nanzen Temple, a Canal inclined plane was built, which allowed boats to travel on land via the use of a flat car on which they were placed. Although it no longer operates, part of the structure of the incline has been preserved and is now a tourist attraction, famous for its ornamental cherry trees.


Following the Meiji Restoration and the subsequent transfer of the capital to Tokyo, the city of Kyoto suffered a decrease in population and industrial activity. In order to make up for this problem, the third Prefectural Governor of Kyoto, , ordered and supervised the construction of the Biwa Lake Canal, devised to facilitate water and passenger transportation, its use in industry and the generation of electricity.

Construction work for the first canal (which went up to the confluence point between Ōtsu...
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