Kyoto Dento (京都電燈)

Kyoto Dento was a Japanese electric power company founded in 1888.

The territory of the company were the Kinki and Hokuriku regions.

Under government control during World War II, it was dissolved in 1942.

Kyoto Dento contributed to the widespread installation of electric lamps by lowering the cost of power generation and the price of electric lamps by drawing on the large amount (for that time) of electricity generated at the Keage Power Plant (run by Kyoto City) on Lake Biwa Canal, which was the first commercial hydraulic power generation in Japan. The large amount of electricity supplied by Kyoto Dento also greatly contributed to the industrial development of Kyoto City, as it led to the inauguration of Kyoto Electric Railway (later sold to Kyoto City Trams), which was the first Japanese electric tramway, in 1895.


Kyoto Dento was established as Kyoto Dento Gaisha in April 1888.
(it was renamed Kyoto Dento Kabushiki Gaisha in February 1893.)
On July 21 in the following year of 1889, the business started as the forth electric power company in Japan, and the company headquarters were built on the west bank of Takase-gawa River (Kyoto Prefecture).

At that time, coal-fired thermal power was generated within the company premises, and short-distance, low-voltage power distribution, operated on direct current, was carried out.

When Keage Power Plant on Lake Biwa Canal started its city-run business, Kyoto Dento applied in 1892 to have its power supply from Keage Power Plant in order to stop thermal power generation, and their application was accepted. On this occasion, high-voltage direct current was switched to high-voltage alternating current.

Although coal-fired power generation stopped in 1894, the new thermal power plant, Higashikujo Power Plant, was started in 1900 in response to the increasing demand.

In 1914, Kyoto Dento started a railway businesses in Kyoto and Fukui Prefectures. This was to ensure stable supply destinations of electricity, and it was a common practice for many companies such as Tokyo Dento (which established the subsequent Enoshima Electric Railway and Tobu Ikaho Permanent Way) before World War II. In 1918, Kyoto Dento merged with the Arashiyama Main Line of Keifuku Electric Railroad.

On September 27, 1925, the company opened the Eizan Main Line, Eizan Electric Railway by utilizing their knowhow in the business. In 1927, a subsidiary company, Kurama Electric Railway, was established. Kyoto Dento competed fiercely with other bus companies of the area for customers, and eventually succeeded in making them subsidiary companies (former Kyoto Bus). It virtually controlled all the transportation systems in the Rakuhoku and Arashiyama areas.

Under government control during World War II, the contribution from the electric power generation and transmission department and the electric power distribution department was ordered in 1941.

The land transportation business, such as the railway business, was started separately with the foundation of Keifuku Electric Railroad in March 1942.

On April 1, 1942, the electric power generation and transmission department of Kyoto Dento contributed to Japan Electric Generation and Transmission Company and the electric power distribution department contributed to Kanasai Haiden and Hokuriku Haiden, and at the same time the liquidation of the company started, which was completed in 1944.

Keifuku Electric Railroad then merged the subsidiary railway companies of Kyoto Dento. In 1946, Kyoto Bus was founded by merging the subsidiary bus companies of Kyoto Dento in the Kyoto area, which eventually covered the routes consisting of 120.9 km in Kyoto and Fukui by 1950. However, managing many small-scale routes led to the financial difficulties for the company, from around 1955, many routes were sold to Keihan Electric Railway, which was planning to extend their business in the Mt. Hiei area. The non-profitable lines were abandoned, Eizan Electric Railway was split-up in 1986, and the railway business in Fukui Prefecture was discontinued in 2003 (except for part of the lines inherited by Echizen Railway). Today in 2009, four remaining lines, which are Arashiyama Main Line of Keifuku Electric Railroad, Kitano Line of Keifuku Electric Railroad, Kosaku Line of Keifuku Electric Railroad (Eizan Cable), and Eizan Ropeway, covering 12.8 km, are still in operation.


The eight storey reinforced concrete building of the Kyoto branch of the Kansai Electric Power, which stands in front of the Karasuma Exit (North Exit) of JR Kyoto Station, is one of the most modern buildings in Kyoto and was originally built as the headquarters of Kyoto Dento in 1937.

[Original Japanese]