Takase-gawa River (Kyoto Prefecture) (高瀬川 (京都府))

The Takase-gawa River is a canal excavated by Ryoi SUMINOKURA and his son Soan SUMINOKURA in the early Edo period for distribution of goods between the central Kyoto and Fushimi.

From its excavation, the canal was used for 300 years as a means to transport goods over water until 1920.

Today the Kamo-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River system) divides the Takase-gawa River into two; the Kyoto side section and Fushimi side section--the upstream side is called Takase-gawa River and the downstream side is called Higashi-takase-gawa River or Shin-takase-gawa River.

The basin of the river from central Kyoto to Sanjo and Shijo is one of Kyoto's amusement areas and a famous cherry blossom viewing spot.

Geography

The Takase-gawa River draws water from 'a branch of the Kamo-gawa (Yodo-gawa River system) bunryu' (a branch of the Kamo-gawa River) that runs side by side on the west bank of the Kamo-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River system) from the south of Nijo-ohashi Bridge. From Nijo it runs southward in the west side of the Kiyamachi-dori Street until it flows into the Kamo-gawa River above the Jujo-dori Street.

When it was a canal that connected Kyoto and Fushimi, it crossed the Kamo-gawa River eastward slightly above today's joint with the Kamo-gawa River, running in parallel with the Takeda-kaido Road in some sections, joining with the Hori-kawa River, and then flowed into the Yodo-gawa River via Fushimi Port.

Today the river south of the Kamo-gawa River is called Higashi-takase-gawa River, is not connected to the Takase-gawa River and the Kamo-gawa River, and is sourced from rainwater. It also joins with the drainage canal to directly flow into the Uji-gawa River without joining with Hori-kawa River.
(The section in the Higashi-takase-gawa River which was developed to directly connect to the Uji-gawa River may be called the Shin-takase-gawa River.)

Municipalities in the river basin

Kyoto Prefecture
Nakagyo Ward, Shimogyo Ward, Minami Ward (Kyoto City) and Fushimi Ward in Kyoto City

History

In the building of Hoko-ji Temple Daibutsu-den Hall in 1610, (Ieyasu TOKUGAWA is said to have ordered the Toyotomi family to reconstruct Hoko-ji Temple Daibutsu-den Hall, with the intent of financially crippling the Toyotomis.)
Ryoi SUMINOKURA and his son Soan SUMINOKURA used the Kamo-gawa River to transport construction materials.

Subsequently, Ryoi SUMINOKURA and his son Soan SUMINOKURA opened a permanent canal between Kyoto and Fushimi in 1614. This canal was the Takase-gawa River.

The canal was so shallow--several tens of centimeters deep--that small boats called Takasebune boat were used.

Between Nijo and Shijo, a Funairi was constructed such that it projected out at a right angle toward from the river toward the west in order to allow the loading and unloading of goods, as well as allowing boats to perform a U-turn. (Today the all the Funairi has been reclaimed except for 'Takase-gawa River Ichi no Funairi cove,' which has been designated as a historic site.

A berth called 'Uchihama' was located near Shichijo.
(The berth was located north of the Shichijo-dori Street centered on Nanajo Kawaramachi.)

Uchihama was built during the construction of Kikoku-tei House (Shosei-en Garden) that started from 1648, which coincided with the replacement of the Odoi earthen walls, as well as change in the flow of the Takase-gawa River. The Uchihama was named after its location-- being inside the Odoi earthen walls.

Hikifunemichi (Towpath) was provided along the river so that Hikiko (boat pullers) could walk and manually pull a Takasebune boat along the river.

During the Edo period, many boats were used as an important means of distribution that linked Kyoto and Fushimi.

In the Meiji period, after Lake Biwa Canal (Kamogawa Canal) opened in 1894, the volume of goods transported through Takase-gawa River declined despite efforts to share the River's transportation capabilities with Lake Biwa Canal, and transportation through the Takase-gawa River came to an end in 1920.

Around this time, the construction of a city planned road was proposed to cover the Takase-gawa River in order to widen a lane of the Kyoto City Trams, but the lane was instead laid out on the Kawaramachi-dori Street due to opposition from residents.

After a heavy flood occurred in 1935, the Kamo-gawa River was dredged as part of a river improvement project causing the water level to fall. As a result, the junction at which the Takase-gawa River flows into the Kamo-gawa River from the north was relocated to an area near the Jujo-dori Street; on the other hand in a downstream area where the Takase-gawa crossed the Kamo-gawa river, it became difficult to carry out water intake from the Kamo-gawa River; as a result the Takase-gawa River was divided.

Others

Today there are many food establishments along the Kiyamachi-dori Street in the area from Nijo to Gojo, where the Takase-gawa River runs in parallel. In particular, the area between Sanjo and Shijo is one of Kyoto's amusement areas, and alive with people until late at night on weekends.

The area has many stone monuments showing events that occurred during the end of the Edo period and in addition, attracts many tourists as a famous cherry blossom viewing spot.

The Takase-gawa River and Takasebune boats often appear in novels by authors including Ogai MORI and Eiji YOSHIKAWA.