The three Kiso Rivers (Kiso River, Nagara River and Ibi River) represent Gifu prefecture. Of those, Kiso River originates in Nagano and flows through Gifu, Aichi and Mie prefectures into Ise Bay. Kiso River flows from east to west through the town of Yaotsu and was once an important waterway for transporting logs from the Kiso mountains.
It’s no exaggeration to say that all of Yaotsu’s development is due to that water transport.
The ‘Tsu’ part of ‘Yaotsu’ is represented by a Chinese character that stands for ship harbor or port, so you can imagine how this related to the origins of the town.
During the Meiji era (1868-1912), Nagoya Power tried to use the large quantity of water in the Kiso river to generate energy. However, there were difficulties in the construction during an era when the technology wasn’t yet established, and with the recession after the Russo-Japanese war it was also hard to procure capital. The power plant was finally completed in 1911, five years after construction began.
The construction started with enthusiasm and with an attitude that, if the company could provide a lot of power to Nagoya city, then it would serve a role in development. However, the costs built up more than expected, prolonging the project. Nagoya Power lost its power as a company and by the time the plant was complete, it had been absorbed by Nagoya Electric Light.
Though it was originally planned to differentiate the company from its competitors, it was it resulted in the ironic construction of this power plant that weakened Nagoya Power.
After that the Yaotsu Power Plant supported the regional industries with power supply, from the Meiji period, through the Taisho period and well into the Showa period, as Kiso River’s first full-scale water power plant, until it completed its work in 1974. In 1998, the power plant building, the remaining machines, etc. were designated as national important cultural properties as valuable sources that tell the history of Japan’s hydro-electric power. In 2007 it was also recognized as a Heritage of Industrial Modernization.
Inside the Yaotsu Old Power Plant Museum, in addition to the display of the generator and water mill, you’ll also find panels exhibiting the history of the power industry in this area and Yaotsu Power Plant’s technology. There is also a reenactment of the raft related to the people's life in those days before the power plant became operational.
Also, the transition of industries and the historical lifestyle in Yaotsu town where people lived alongside Kiso River are exhibited with excavated articles, tools and other historical materials.
In the ‘Yaotsu Information Corner’ you an see a video of the local festivals and seasonal scenery that still remains in the region. The museum not only helps you learn about the power plant, but also about the town of Yaotsu.
Kiso River, flowing in front of the museum, offers a rich and lush scenery. The harmony of the water landscape always captures the hearts of its visitors. This magnificent landscape itself is a great reason to visit the museum.