The Shirakawa is a major river that collects waters from the Aso caldera and carries them out to the Ariake Sea. Kikuyo is an excellent place to experience all that the Shirakawa offers and provides to the entire Kumamoto Prefecture. A close look at the Shirakawa river basin reveals a unique, almost tadpole-like shape, with Aso as the head. This shape is believed to be due to the distribution of seismic faults running east-west in central Kyushu. Although the Shirakawa runs through many towns, it was necessary to build aqueducts to bring the water to where it was needed.
The Babakusu Ide said to be built under Kato Kiyomasa provides water to the southern side of the Shirakawa River, and the Seta Uwaide/Shimoide, Tsukure, and Tamaoka Canals lie to the north. The canal waters are vital for daily life and agriculture, and it is no exaggeration to say that the canals that criss-cross the town are the paths for water that form the foundation of Kikuyo.
The canals built under the Katos and the Hosokawas are still in use today. Also, the weirs and bridges built around the canals are very important cultural assets.
To utilize the waters of the Shirakawa, six weirs (a dam-like structure that regulates waterflow without retaining water) and seven canals were built in the mid-Shirakawa basin. Even now, most of the canals are still used for irrigation. The Hanaguri Ide was constructed with some of The Edo Era's most advanced techniques, and the Seta Uwaide and Babakusu Ides intake were constructed with old masonry techniques.
Due to the excavation of numerous canals, bridges to get over the canals became necessary. A number of stone bridges ("meganebashi," meaning "spectacle bridge" due to their resemblance to glasses) constructed over canals in the late-The Edo Era and early-Meiji periods (around 1800-1900) still exist in Kikuyo and Ozu. The Uwaide Canal is surrounded by a townscape developed through a close historical relationship with the water around it.
These cultural sites related to river improvement and irrigation take you through the canals and bridges built by Kato Kiyomasa and the lords of the Hosokawa clan, as they have been used for centuries.
An Amazing Mechanism In The Middle Of The Babakusu Ide
The Hanaguri Ide is the name of a construction in a section of canal located approximately 2km downstream from the inlet of the Babakusu Ide, and is believed to have been built by Kato Kiyomasa. The unique structure consists of tunnels bored through a number of walls built in the canal perpendicular to the water flow, which disturb the flow of water and prevent build-up of dirt and volcanic ash along the bottom of the canal. This unparalleled piece of engineering is a source of pride for Kikuyo.