Katsura-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River System) (桂川 (淀川水系))

The Katsura-gawa River is a first class river of the Yodo-gawa River System running through Kyoto Prefecture.


The Katsura-gawa River originates from Sasari-toge Mountain Pass on the border between Sasari, Miyama-cho in Nantan City (formerly Miyama-cho, Kita-Kuwada-gun, Kyoto Prefecture) and Hirogawara in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. The river flows south through Hirogawara and Hanase in Sakyo Ward, but changes its course westward in the south of Hanase. The river runs east-west through Keihoku, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City (formerly Keihoku-cho, Kitakuwada-gun), and, by way of Segi Dam and Hiyoshi Dam in Hiyoshi-cho, Nantan City (formerly Hiyoshi-cho, Funai-gun, Kyoto Prefecture), flowing south towards the Kameoka Basin afterward. The river runs through the center of Kameoka City, flows south-east down Hozu-kyo Gorge, and then into the Kyoto Basin at Arashiyama southward; the river then merges with the Kamogawa River (Yodo-gawa River System) in Fushimi Ward, and is joined by the Kizu-gawa and Uji-gawa Rivers on the border with Osaka Prefecture, where it becomes the Yodo-gawa River.


Conventionally, the river along Keihoku, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City is referred to as the Kamikatsura-gawa River; the one along Sonobe-cho, Nantan City is the Katsura-gawa River; the one from Yagi-cho, Nantan City to Kameoka City is the Oi-gawa River; the one from the Hozu-hashi Bridge or Hozu-kyo Gorge to Arashiyama is the Hozu-gawa River; and the one from Arashiyama to the junction is again the Katsura-gawa River.

These are the conventional names, but after the River Act was proclaimed in April 1896 and implemented in June of the same year, only the name Katsura-gawa River has been used in administrative documents. In the survey by the Geographical Survey Institute, the entire waterway is described as the Katsura-gawa River, and none of the other names mentioned above have been used.

Municipalities along the river

Kyoto Prefecture
Sakyo Ward in Kyoto City, Ukyo Ward, Nantan City, Kameoka City, Ukyo Ward, Nishikyo Ward, Minami Ward (Kyoto City), Fushimi Ward, and Oyamazaki-cho in Otokuni-gun

Scenic sites

Hozu-gawa river rafting in Hozu-kyo Gorge
One of the tourist routes in Kyoto
In order to reach the Gorge, one can take a tram on the Sagano Scenic Line of the Sagano Scenic Railway from Saga Torokko Station to Kameoka Torokko Station, and then take the connecting bus to the boat pier (15 min). After which it is a ten-minute walk from Kameoka Station. While the river looks calm from a distance, rapids become apparent when one traverses the river in a small boat.

Kyoto Prefecture Road 801, Kyoto-Yawata-Kizu Bicycle Path
A 45 km-long bicycle path connecting the Togetsu-kyo Bridge in Arashiyama and the Izumi Ohashi Bridge in Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture. The path running south from the Miyamae-bashi Bridge parts from the Katsura-gawa River runs along the Kizu-gawa River. The Katsura-gawa river route is under Kyoto City jurisdiction, while the Kizu-gawa river route is maintained by Kyoto Prefecture.


Downstream of the Katsura-gawa River, flowing south into the Kyoto Basin used to be called the Kadono-gawa River, according to the Yamashiro-koku Fudoki (regional gazetteers of Yamashiro Province; incomplete work) and the Nihon Koki (Later Chronicle of Japan). The Katsura-gawa River around the Arashiyama area is believed to have flowed differently in ancient times from what it does today. As such, the area around the river seems to have suffered from floods. The Kadono Oi (weirs) located on the river, are believed to have been built by the Hata clan around the sixth century, who ruled the riverside of the Katsura-gawa River such as Saga and Matsuo. The weir built on the east bank of the Katsura-gawa River between Shimo-Saga and Matsuo, is called Fushihara tsutsumi. According to the Hata-shi Honkei-cho (genealogy of the head clans), the name of the river changed to the Oi-gawa River from the Kadono-gawa River when the weirs were completed.

Afterward, the river around Arashiyama and to the north was referred to as the Oi-gawa River, '大堰川' or '大井川,' (in two different descriptions with the same meaning), while the river to the south of Arashiyama was referred to as the Katsura-gawa River, '桂川' or '葛河' (the same as the above).
The Tosa Nikki (Tosa Diary) describes the river as the Katsura-gawa River, '桂川'; in the Nihon Kiryaku (historical books written in the Heian period), the river is known as the Oi-gawa River, '大堰川'; and in the Tsurezure-gusa (a collection of essays written in the early 1330s), the river is referred to as the Oi-gawa River, '大井川.'
Line 51 of the Tsurezure-gusa depicts a scene where water is brought from the Oi-gawa River to the Kameyama-dono Palace in Sagano. According to the Yoshufushi (gazetteer of Yamashiro Province), the river downstream to the south of Saga was named the Katsura-gawa River since the 'Katsura-no-sato' (village of Katsura) lay on the west side of the river, while upstream, to the north of Saga around Arashiyama, the river was described as the Oi-gawa River.

The Katsura-gawa River was regularly used to transport wood from Tanba, Yamashiro, and Settsu, as in the case of the present-day Keihoku-cho in Ukyo Ward, which shipped its wood to Kyoto for the construction of the Heian-kyo. In the 17th century, a wealthy merchant with political ties, Ryoi SUMINOKURA, built a canal from the Katsura-gawa River to connect the present-day Yogi-mura (与木村) in Tanba-cho, and Yodo and Osaka; consequently, water transportation developed. Places such as Sonobe, Hozu, Yamamoto, Arashiyama, Umezu and Katsurazu (桂津) prospered as port towns.

Major bridges

The numbers below represent the distance from the Togetsu-kyo Bridge.

Togetsu-kyo Bridge (Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture): 0.0 km
Matsuo-bashi Bridge (Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture): 1.8 km
Ueno-bashi Bridge (Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture): 3.6 km
Nishi Ohashi Bridge (Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture): 4.5 km
Katsura Ohashi Bridge (Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture): 6.4 km
Kuze-bashi Bridge (Minami Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture): 8.8 km
Daini Kuze-bashi Bridge [1] (Minami Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture): 9.6 km
Koga-hashi Bridge (Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City): 11.8 km
Hazukashi-bashi Bridge (Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City): 14.1 km
Miyamae-bashi Bridge (Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City): 17.1 km

1. The bridge is scheduled to open in 2007. The name of the bridge is tentative.

[Original Japanese]