<2021年4月1日に竣工しました> →竣工写真等はブログ「竣工・御殿堰景観整備」をご覧ください。

It was completed on April 1, 2021. →For completion photos and more, please visit the blog ‘Completion and Goten-zeki Landscape Improvement.’



I am currently involved in the landscape improvement plan for the Goten-zeki canal in Yamagata City, including the west side of the Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building, for which I previously carried out architectural design. The Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building was previously featured in blogs and other platforms. It is an award-winning building that received the 2020 Good Design Award.

御殿堰の上に設けられたデッキは今回新設するもので、東側(パース右側)には御殿堰の解説パネルが設置されます。デッキはコンクリートの床版に花崗岩を貼ったもの、「御殿堰」の文字を白い花崗岩で象嵌しています。/The deck constructed on top of the Goten-zeki (御殿堰) is a new addition for this project. On the east side (right side in the perspective), an explanatory panel about Goten-zeki is being installed. The deck features a concrete floor with granite cladding, and the characters ‘御殿堰’ are inlaid with white granite.


御殿堰の文字が象嵌された花崗岩が現場に搬入された(3月29日)/ The granite with the inlaid characters ‘御殿堰’ was delivered to the site on March 29th.




The construction is currently underway, and upon completion, it is expected to resemble the image shown in the above perspective. The existing retaining walls, which were originally built by concreting over the original stones after World War II, cannot be fundamentally demolished due to their connection with the landowners of the adjacent land. Therefore, the new design takes an approach similar to what was used in the Edo period, where the stones are laid diagonally on top of the existing retaining walls.

Furthermore, in the past, the bottom of the watercourse was covered with gravel mixed with fragments of ceramics and bottles, making it difficult to control weed growth during the summer. To address this issue, concrete was poured, and slightly smaller stones are being embedded. It’s important to note that concrete didn’t exist in Japan during the Edo period, and the width of the watercourse will be slightly reduced due to the concrete retaining walls, so this project is not a strict historical restoration but rather a regeneration of the urban landscape that respects Edo-era design principles.


Please refer to the explanation above for an overview of Onden. This is the draft for the information board to be installed as part of the landscape improvement project. In consideration of the internationalization of tourism, we have also included an English version. To make it readable for children and Japanese beginners, furigana (pronunciation guides) have been added to the Kanji characters.




This is the condition of Goten-zeki canal, located next to the Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building, before the landscape improvement project. The photo was taken shortly after the completion of the building, but at that time, the water was not flowing in the watercourse. As you can see, Goten-zeki was covered with concrete retaining walls at this time. (In most cases, it seems that Edo-era stones are hidden within this structure.)

Goten-zeki was originally developed in the early Edo period and is one of the five watercourses, known as the “Yamagata Goseki” that flow like a grid throughout Yamagata City. It carried clean water taken from the Mamigasaki River’s intake and has been utilized for domestic and agricultural water needs. However, during the post-war period of rapid economic growth, domestic and industrial wastewater began to flow into the watercourse, and the once-beautiful flow had almost disappeared. At that time, Japan was focused on overcoming poverty and achieving material prosperity, and as a result, the stone-lined watercourse from the Edo period was easily replaced with concrete retaining walls. I believe these concrete retaining walls were built around the 1960s or so.


Before the construction of the Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building, there were long-standing town factories (combined with residences) in the area. To the west (left side in the photo), Goten-zeki canal used to flow, sandwiched between the neighboring building and the town factories.


It was such a narrow space that most passersby hardly noticed its existence, and even if they did, they were not conscious of the historical watercourse, Goten-zeki.


この山形県税理士会館の設計案は、設計競技(コンペ) により選ばれたのですが、このとき、御殿堰を取り込んだ親水広場をつくることを一つの重要な要素として提案しました。そのことも含めて評価していただき当選し、実施されることになりました。

The design proposal for the Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building was selected through a design competition. During this competition, one of the critical elements proposed was to create a waterside plaza that incorporated Goten-zeki. This aspect of the design was highly valued, leading to your success in the competition and subsequent implementation.



And as a result, you were able to complete the construction, closely resembling the design proposed during the competition, including the waterside plaza.



The floor plan of the Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building shows that the area of the plaza remains with the existing concrete retaining walls. From the perspective of a designer, it would have been ideal to make the area facing Goten-zeki more aesthetically pleasing. However, it was understood that Yamagata City and organizations responsible for water rights managed and operated the watercourse. Therefore, gaining approval to create a plaza along the watercourse was a significant accomplishment, and it was not possible to make changes to the watercourse itself.


It’s a remarkable turn of events that, after more than a year since the completion of the building, we received a call from the City Planning Policy Division of Yamagata City. They informed us that there was a potential opportunity for landscape improvement around the Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building, with financial assistance from the national government, and they sought our advice. Although we didn’t actively initiate this development, it appears that the municipal representative had been impressed by the waterside plaza in front of the tax accountants’ association building and recognized its significance as part of the broader initiative to revitalize the Yamagata Goseki watercourses that they had been working on for a while.


Given that I initially thought it would be impossible to address the core Goten-zeki  structure itself in front of the tax accountants’ building, I  have been pleasantly surprised by this unexpected news. It’s a testament to how strong passion and commitment can resonate with others, ultimately leading to the realization of such projects.


Through this series of events, we were entrusted with the role of overseeing the entire landscape improvement plan and managing the landscape design, which is a significant responsibility. Our commitment to the project and its historical and cultural significance likely played a pivotal role in our selection for this important task.

税理士会館の、道路を挟んで反対側の御殿堰も整備しています。(3月19日)/Working on the improvement of the Goten‐zeki on the opposite side of the road from the Tax Accountants’ Association building (March 19th).


上の赤い線で描かれた部分が、今回の工事範囲です。/ The area outlined in red lines represents the scope of the current construction project.


山形県税理士会館の竣工当初の御殿堰の様子です。(2017年12月) この時は水が止まった状態ですが、河床は土に少し砂利の撒かれたような状態です。(このようにしてみると泥が溜まっているようにしか見えませんね。)/ This is how Goten-zeki looked when the Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building was completed (December 2017). At this time, the water was not flowing, and the riverbed appeared to have a layer of soil with scattered gravel. (Viewed in this way, it looks like mud has accumulated.)

建物の新築工事の時に、コンクリートで覆われていた護岸を親水広場の高さに合わせたら、おそらく江戸時代のものであろう玉石が出てきました。(コンクリートの表面にポツポツと現れているもの) 水路の東(写真左)側は建物の敷地の範囲内だったので、一応このような形で修復することができましたが、西(写真右)側のコンクリート護岸は一切触れられませんでした。

During the construction of the new building, when we adjusted the concrete retaining walls to match the height of the waterside plaza, it revealed what appeared to be Edo-era stones. These stones emerged on the surface of the concrete, especially on the east side of the watercourse, which was within the building’s property limits. As a result, we were able to restore this portion to some extent. However, the concrete retaining walls on the west side remained untouched.


For this project, we designed the waterside plaza to extend slightly towards the watercourse, forming an arc in harmony with the building’s curved curtain wall and concentric circles.



The sections already concreted were constrained by the proximity of the building and structures, making it impossible to demolish and restore them to their original Edo-era state. Therefore, we aimed to create a new landscape where Edo and Reiwa (the current era) could engage in a dialogue across time, preserving some Edo-era design elements while incorporating modern features.


Goten-zeki primarily serves as an irrigation water source for agriculture, and it’s not feasible to freely control the opening and closing of the intake at the Mamigasaki River for aesthetic reasons. As a result, the water flow is not constant. To address this, two weirs for landscaping were established at the watercourse in front of the Tax Accountants’ Association building. These weirs were designed to maintain a constant water depth even when the water flow is low. When the water overflows the weirs, it forms beautiful cascades, creating an appealing visual effect. While this design wasn’t present in the Edo period, it was a necessary innovation to prevent the water from becoming stagnant and exposing the bottom, as shown in the photo above. Since this project aimed for enhancement rather than strict historical restoration, discussions with municipal authorities led to the consideration of more attractive options, ultimately resulting in the design mentioned above.




In the current landscape improvement project, the main focus is to construct stone retaining walls primarily within the area indicated by the red lines and also cover the bottom with stones.

3月29日の現場の様子/The state of the site on March 29th.


We are conducting landscape improvements by covering the concrete retaining walls on both sides of the road, not just in front of the Tax Accountants’ Association building. This way, people walking along the street may sense the Goten-zeki flowing on both sides with a more expansive visual presence.

道路を挟んで反対側(南側)のデッキ(3月29日)/ The deck on the opposite side (south side) of the road, taken on March 29th



The plaza on the arc that extends slightly towards Onden offers a perspective that was previously unavailable. This allows people to experience the watercourse from a new viewpoint. It is my hope that this will help individuals form a deeper connection with this historical heritage.

税理士会館前の親水広場を、今回の御殿堰景観整備計画に基づいて工事している様子(3月19日)/ The construction of the waterside plaza in front of the Tax Accountants’ Association building, based on the Gotenn-zeki landscape improvement plan, as seen on March 19th.


ある冬の午後の情景/ A scene from a winter afternoon.


今回の景観整備事業で取り付けられる案内板のもう一面。(上で掲げたものの反対側)/ The reverse side of the information board to be installed as part of the current landscape improvement project (opposite side of the one mentioned above).



These are the Yamagata Goseki, a series of watercourses that flow throughout Yamagata City like a grid.


One of the intake points from the Mamigasaki River to the Yamagata Goseki. From here, the pure meltwater from the Zao Mountains is channeled into the watercourses, including Goten-zeki, and directed into the city. This flow connects to the area in front of the Tax Accountants’ Association building.


The Mamigasaki Riverside is a renowned cherry blossom spot in Yamagata City. In the autumn, it comes alive with “Imonikai” taro cooking gatherings.

再び、現在の工事の様子(3月19日) 玉石は、近傍でとれる、御殿堰にもともと使われていた石に近い質感のものを使っています。自然石を、形を合わせながら、一つ一つ手作業で積んでいます。大変な作業です。/ Once again, the current state of the construction (March 19th). The stones used are of a texture similar to the ones originally used in Goten-zeki and are sourced locally. Natural stones are stacked one by one, shaped to fit, and assembled by hand. It’s a labor-intensive process.


The proposal for the waterside plaza at the Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building served as the catalyst, leading to the landscape improvement of the Goten-zeki in the surrounding area, spanning approximately 100 meters. It’s truly an indescribable feeling to see a new place in Yamagata City emerge where history and dialogue can take place.

竣工間近です(3月29日)/ It’s nearing completion (March 29th).


景観整備前の親水広場と桜 (2018年4月)/ The waterside plaza and cherry blossoms before the landscape improvement (April 2018).




The waterside plaza is adorned with three cherry trees (which, of course, will be preserved). The Yamagata Prefecture Tax Accountants’ Association building is situated midway between the famous cherry blossom spot, Kajo Park, and the Bunshokan (the former prefectural office).



This information was previously mentioned in the blog “Yamagata Goken and Cherry Blossoms” , which you can refer to for more details.

霞城公園のお堀と桜  御殿堰は、このお城(=御殿)のお堀にその一部が流れ込んでいることからその名が付きました。

The moat and cherry blossoms of Kasumigajo Park. “Goten-zeki “derives its name from the fact that a portion of it flows into the moat of this castle, which is referred to as ‘Goten’ (palace/castle).”

霞城公園内にある、旧済生館本館(重要文化財)/ The former Main Building of the Old Saisei-kan Hospital (Important Cultural Property) located within Kajo Park.”


文翔館(旧山形県庁:重要文化財)と桜 / The Bunshokan (former Yamagata Prefectural Office: Important Cultural Property) and cherry blossoms.


山形県教育資料館 (旧山形師範学校:重要文化財)前の桜もきれいです。/ The cherry blossoms in front of the Yamagata Prefectural Museum (former Yamagata Normal School: Important Cultural Property) are also beautiful.


馬見ヶ崎河畔まで、霞城公園から桜の名所を訪ねながら歩くと45分程度です。/It takes about 45 minutes to walk from Kajo Park to Mamigasaki Riverside while visiting cherry blossom spots along the way. 



I’ve always hoped that the waterside plaza in front of the Tax Accountants’ Association building would become a connecting point for city strolls right from the design stage of the building. With the recent landscape improvement of the Goten-zeki in the entire area surrounding the Tax Accountants’ Association building, it serves as a catalyst, connecting existing attractive tourist spots into a line, which will eventually become a network, creating a town where people can enjoy walking even more.

模型写真 / Model photo





The construction for the Onden landscape improvement project around the Tax Accountants’ Association building is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2021. By the time the cherry blossoms bloom, I believe everyone will be able to visit.

This year, traditional crowded cherry blossom viewing gatherings might not be possible to avoid crowding, but you could try a new style of “hanami” by taking a walk through the city while chasing the cherry blossoms, sometimes stepping out of your room to enjoy the blossoms in a different way. How about that?