History of the Kitakami River What kind of river is the Kitakami? _ The culture and history of the Kitakami River
   
The origin of the name "Kitakami"
The Kitakami area is described as Hitakami-no-kuni in the Nihonshoki (the first history book of Japan prepared under the direction of an emperor). The book reports Takeuchi-no-sukune after his return from Togoku said, "Hitakami-no-kuni is in the 'undeveloped' area of the east." (The Keiko Emperor, February edition of the twenty-seventh year). The location of Hitakami-no-kuni is not clear in the report. People thought it was a remote region where the power of the Imperial Court did not reach.
A primary river running through Hitakami-no-kuni changed its name from the Hitakami River to Kitakami River. Soon they wrote down the river name with kanji characters that are still used today.
(Reference data)
One hundred and ten year history book of the Kitakami River by the Tohoku District Construction Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation
 
Hiraizumi's culture with glittering gold  
The culture in Hiraizumi represented by Konjikido of the Chusonji Temple lasted for one hundred years from the end of the eleventh to the twelfth century. The culture prospered while Fujiwara no Kiyohira, Motohira, Hidehira and Yasuhira were at the head of Hiraizumi. It ended when Yasuhira, the fourth in the line of lords, was wiped out by Minamoto no Yoritomo. Aiming at protecting Hiraizumi from the threat of water damage, an embankment was built with a circumference of seven kilometers. Transportation by boats on the Kitakami River was flourishing. It is said that people in the area traded with eastern Asia.
Konjikido
in the Chusonji Temple


The garden
in the Motsuji Temple
■Morioka before and today
(The juncture of the Kitakami, Shizukuishi and Nakatsu Rivers)
During the Ansei period
in the last part of the Edo Era
Old map of the Morioka castle town held
by Morioka Central Public Hall
Morioka today
   


(Reference data)
The Kitakami River by Iwate Nippo

History of transportation by boats
- using boats on the Kitakami River

Single-mast sailboat on the Kitakami River at Tenshochi

The steamboat
Iwate-maru
Exchanges on the Kitakami River using boats have a long history that is seen in the culture of Hiraizumi. It reached its peak during the Edo period.
Rice was sold in Edo that was produced in the Kitakami Valley. Rice supported the finances of each clan. The magistrate's office for the granaries of the Nanbu clan was in Kurosawajiri (Kitakami City now). Kurosawajiri was the place to transship from small rowboats sailing on the upper reaches to single-mast sailboats sailing on the lower reaches of the Kitakami River.

In the Meiji period, a shipping company opened and steamboats sailed between Ichinoseki and Ishinomaki. The Kitakami Valley was a very bustling place. They say that Kenji Miyazawa, a famous poet and writer of fairy tales from Iwate, enjoyed traveling on a steamboat named the Iwate-maru.
(Reference data)
Water transportation on the Kitakami River held by Kitakami City Museum
 
川に鮭が戻ってきた! <Measures for clean water>
Clean water has flowed in the Kitakami River since the old days and the plentiful water has benefited people's lives. In the Taisho period, the Matsuo mine opened in the upper reach area of the Aka River, a branch of the Kitakami River. The water of the Aka River became acidic because of polluted water flowing into the river from the mine. As the amount of polluted water increased, the pollution spread into the Kitakami River. Starting in the 1950s, the pollution became so bad fish could not live. The river became a dead river and people could not use it. Since then, Iwate Prefecture and the central government have attempted many things to improve the quality of water and it has gradually improved. In the autumn of 1974, salmon returned to the Nakatsu River, which runs through Morioka.
(Reference data)The Kitakami River before and today - the Society for the Study of Public Engineering Works in Iwate, Iwate Office of River and National Highway of the Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transportation
 


New anti-pollution facilities at the old Matsuo mine
Polluted water at the juncture of Matsu and Kitakami Rivers
These facilities were completed in 1981. They adopted a new method where calcium carbonate counteracts polluted water by oxidizing with iron bacteria. After introducing this method, the quality of the river water dramatically improved. It stopped the inflow of compounded sediment flowing into the Shijushida Dam. They could not prevent the inflow using the old method.
(Reference data)The Kitakami River before and today - the Society for the Study of Public Engineering Works in Iwate, Iwate Office of River and National Highway of the Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transportation
   
Mini-bits of knowledge and information ●Legend handed down about the Yuhazu spring, source of the Kitakami River
●What are a rowboat and a single-mast sailboat?
 

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