The Historical Transition of Lakefront Environment and Use in Lake Biwa, Japan

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The Historical Transition of Lakefront Environment and Use in Lake Biwa, Japan


Lake Biwa is the largest and oldest lake in Japan. It has approximately 4,000,000 years of history, and many people have lived on this lake. More than 90 underwater archaeological sites exist here, and we are able to understand the subtleties of history. As an example, the Awazu-bottom site,is dated to the middle of the Jomon period approximately 5,000 years ago, and is the largest freshwater shell mound in Japan. It was formed near the lakefront at first, but now submerged on the bottom of lake. The Shiozu-port site is a late Heian period dated to 800 years ago, and is one of the oldest harbor sites in Japan. It was constructed to reclaim the lake, and prospered as water transport area. Many important remains, not only port facilities but also shrines and more, have been excavated, but it disappeared in the 12th century. The causes of this sites’ submergence is closely related an environmental transition of the lakefront. The water balance is particularly important problem. Approximately 460 rivers flow into this lake, but the discharge is only through the Seta-River. Therefore, the water level is greatly fluctuated by the sedimentation situation of the riverbed. According to the old historical documents, many floods have occurred. Therefore, sometimes dredging is carried out by the government to this day. Not only are water levels problematic, but ground sedimentation is as well. The lakefront is convenient for fishery and water transportation, but on the other hand, the land is soft. In a certain study, the ground water level is slightly 20cm higher than water level of lake. As a result of this, serious damage to the settlements have occurred by earthquakes. The extreme effect of this has settlements bring submerged to the bottom of lake by lateral Flow; landslide by the soil liquefaction. In this paper, I would like to study a historical transition of the lakefront environment and its use.


Hisashi Nakagawa


The Museum of Underwater Archaeology




Hisashi Nakagawa




Hisashi Nakagawa , “The Historical Transition of Lakefront Environment and Use in Lake Biwa, Japan ,” The MUA Collection, accessed June 21, 2018,

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