There are many examples where the tourism industry plays an important role in local economies. In particular, the charm and fascination of local historical legacies are one resource that can attract tourists, both nationally and from overseas.
The Teizan Canal system in Miyagi Prefecture was built in five sections: 3 smaller canals (called Hori or Bori in Japanese); and two larger canals (Unga). Construction began at the end of the 16th Century, just before the start of the Edo period (1603-1868) and the Tokugawa Shōgunate. It was started by the Sendai feudal lord, Masamune Date, as he began to develop his feudal domain, with a section is known as Kibiki Hori (‘tree-drag canal’), which was excavated between 1597 and 1601 in order to transport trees from the Abukuma River to build Aoba Castle, Sendai. Some time later, Ofune-iri Hori (‘ship-carrying canal’) was built near Nanakita River, associated with the loading of rice into ships ready for transporting to be sold to the people of Tokyo. Three more sections were added during the Meiji period (1868-1912). Firstly Shin Bori (‘new canal’) connected the two earlier canals together. Then two much larger canals (Kitakami Unga and Tōna Unga) were built between Matsushima and Ishinomaki, connecting other large rivers by which rice could be transported from the fertile plains of northern Miyagi to sea-going vessels in the local ports.
This canal system is known collectively as the Teizan Canal. It links together 7 cities and 3 towns, comprising the majority of the population of Miyagi Prefecture. As such it is a splendid historical legacy for this part of Japan.
The Teizan Canal is dotted with historical constructions and remains and it is also associated with rich natural beauty and an atmosphere from an age gone by. Even now, though, small boats come and go and it is an important part of the lives of the local people.
If we can rediscover the glamour and attraction of the Teizan Canal as a resource for local tourist activities, the tourist industry can be associated with generating related new businesses, making a large contribution to development of the local economy. With these thoughts in mind we have established this Teizan Canal Research Institute.