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The Teizan Canal in Summary

The Teizan Canal was constructed in 5 sections, as 3 channels and 2 canals, at different times over a span of some 400 years. The total constructed length is 49 km. However, including Shiogama Bay and Matsushima Bay, it spans a distance of 60km.


Note. The remains of Nobiru Port comprise an historical landmark, a relic associated with the beginning of the Japanese government’s drive towards industrialization. It was to have been one of the first two ports to be constructed by modern methods and was begun in 1878 but there were many problems. Finally, many of the foundation stones designed to buttress the breakwaters were broken up by storm waves from a typhoon towards the end of 1884, and the project was abandoned.

Table summarizing the sections of the Teizan Canal, from North to South

Notes. *Shiogama Bay is continuous with the southern side of Matsushima Bay.
#The Kitakami River is unusual in that it forks a few kilometres before reaching the sea and has two mouths. The main branch opens into the Pacific (as the Kitakami River); and the other opens into Sendai Bay at Ishinomaki and is known as the Old Kitakami River.

Excavation of the canal system began in 1597 (the 2nd year of the reign of Emperor Keichō), just before the beginning of the Edo Period (1603-1868). There was a long interval before the canal was completed, in 1884 (the 17th year of the reign of Emperor Meiji). The history of the Teizan Canal is therefore in two main parts: the Masamune Period and the Meiji Period, as explained here [link].

The reason why the canal system has the name Teizan relates to the local feudal lord Masamune Date, who ordered the initial construction of the canal system and is responsible for founding the city of Sendai and bringing it much wealth. In the Buddhist religion, when someone dies they begin a new life for which they receive a different, new, posthumous name, usually decided by a Buddhist priest. Masamune’s posthumous name is Zuiganjiden Teizanzen Ri Dai-ishi. Local legend has it that, in 1881, the section chief of Public Works for Miyagi Prefecture, civil engineer Tomohiro Hayakawa, recalled the importance of Masamune to Sendai and decided to honour his memory by giving the name Teizan Canal to the section composed of the 3 most southern channels, from Kibiki Channel to Ofuna-iri Channel.

In 1884, a continuous waterway was finally completed along the coast of Sendai Bay, connecting the Abukuma River at its the southern extent to the Old Kitakami River at the northern end of the bay, including the stretch of water through the sheltered bays of Shiogama and Matsushima. However, in June the same year, it was severely damaged by a disastrous typhoon, so major restoration works were necessary. Reconstruction was completed by Miyagi Prefecture 5 years later in 1889, and a bulletin by the canal management regulatory body announced that the name Teizan Canal would apply henceforth to all 5 sections.

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