Thank you all for your hard work!

This is Umino who am thankful once again for the convenience of civilization as a new air conditioner arrived safely at the beginning of this week. (I think I will be able to get through this summer somehow now …).

Although it’s abrupt, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “Shiga Prefecture”?

Maybe, most people thought of “Lake Biwa” first and foremost.

Satellite photo of Lake Biwa

The relationship is so strong that the formula “Shiga Prefecture” = “Lake Biwa” (this will not be on the next test …).

One of the words that symbolize this is “Stop the water in Lake Biwa!”

This is a common threat used by residents of the prefecture when they are teased about Shiga by Kyoto, Osaka, and other people.

Umino has used it as a “gag” several times, but did you know that the water in Lake Biwa was actually stopped in the past?
The reason I used the word “stopped” is that it was not the Shiga side that stopped them, but the Kyoto side!

The time dates back to 1896. At that time, Kyoto was constructing a waterway (“Lake Biwa Sosui”) to draw water from Lake Biwa in order to restore vitality to the city, which had sunk into a state of depression after the capital was relocated to Tokyo during the Meiji Restoration, and in 1896, more than six years had passed since the completion of the first canal (“Biwako Daiichi Sosui”).

The 1st Canal of Lake Biwa at the time of completion in 1890

The 1st Canal of Lake Biwa at the time of completion in 1890.

In September of that year, a torrential downpour, later known as the “Lake Biwa Flood”, flooded the waterway. At that time, the city of Kyoto, fearing flood damage, closed the floodgate in Otu.

Shiga side was angry very much to this act. This is because the blockage of the sluice gate has increased the amount of flooding on the Shiga side. The town of Otu (now Otu City) demanded that Kyoto City open the sluice gate, but Kyoto City refused. It was a very sad event that cast a pall over the relationship between Shiga and Kyoto (which has now been restored … supposedly!).

So, historically speaking, the phrase “Stop the water in Lake Biwa! was a threatening phrase used by the citizens of Kyoto against the citizens of Shiga Prefecture. Now that we know this, what kind of threats should Shiga Prefecture residents use against Kyoto people from now on. After all, can’t Shiga be superior to Kyoto …?

The current canal of Lake Biwa.

The current canal of Lake Biwa.

However, I think it is also true that it was because of the Lake Biwa Sosui, that Kyoto regained its vitality and became what it is today. It would not be wrong to think that “Shiga (Lake Biwa) has made Kyoto what it is today” (or so the Kyoto people, let us think so!).

This is a bit of a forced summary, but I felt again that the relationship between Shiga and Kyoto is somewhat mysterious and interesting. (What? You think this summary is a bit forced, too?)
One last thing … Why do I, a resident of a sea-less prefecture, call myself “Umino”? It’s because the people of Shiga Prefecture consider Lake Biwa to be a “pale sea”! No matter what anyone says, Lake Biwa is a “pale sea”! (And people in other prefectures make fun of me again …)
Thank you very much for reading to the end. See you next time!
Reference: “Stop the water in Lake Biwa! No, actually, Kyoto City stopped it 120 years ago. Kyoto Shimbun. 2021-07-18, Kyoto Shimbun. (Reference: 2022-06-24)




京都三条会商店街北 薬膳&カフェ 雅(みやび) サイト制作・運営 一般社団法人シシン