日本造園学会賞奨励賞「歴史的水路『御殿堰』の再生」/ JILA Encouragement Prize for the “Revitalization of the Historical Waterway ‘Goten-zeki'”

まちづくり ランドスケープ 保存・再生 地域文化 建築 都市
私たちの手掛けた「歴史的水路『御殿堰』の再生-民から官へ受け継がれた親水空間の形成と歴史性の回復-」がこのたび、2022年度日本造園学会賞奨励賞(設計作品部門)を受賞しました。(2023年6月17日 日本造園学会全国大会(南九州大学(宮崎県都城市))にて表彰)
Our project, “Revitalization of the Historical Waterway ‘Goten-seki’: Formation of an Aquatic Space Passed Down from the People to the Government and Restoration of Historical Significance,” was recently awarded the Encouragement Prize in the Design Works Category at the 2022 Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards (presented at the National Conference of the Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture, which took place at the University of Miyazaki, Miyakonojo City, Miyazaki Prefecture, on June 17, 2023).







This is a selected review published on page 155 of the July 2023 issue of “Landscape Research,” the journal of the Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture.

■ Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture Encouragement Award: Design Work Category (1 Recipient)

・Mr. Hidehiro Yano

“Regeneration of the Historic Waterway ‘Goten-zeki’ – Creating a Waterside Space Passed from Citizens to Officials and Restoring Its Historicity”

This work begins with the creation of a public open space as a guide and aims to regenerate the town starting from a small space by structurally and scenically restoring a historical waterway. The development of a space that contributes to urban development in such a small-scale example is highly significant as a case study for future planners and designers. For these reasons, it was deemed worthy of the Japan Institute of Landscape Architecture Encouragement Award (Design Work Category).


We express our gratitude to the esteemed judges and all those who supported us, from the construction of the Zeirishi Kaikan (Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall) to the landscape development of Goten-seki. We are truly thankful to our clients, construction teams, and collaborators. We highly value the recognition of this project by the Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture. Thank you very much.

Below, we present the “Reasons for Application and Recommendation” along with photos. (Please note that some expressions have been modified for reproduction.)


“The designer had the opportunity to participate in a design competition for the construction of the Yamagata Prefectural Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall in 2016, approximately six years ago. Upon visiting the site, it was evident that there was a two-story existing building (a printing factory) right up to the property’s boundaries. Peering between this building and its neighbor, one could barely observe a narrow, concrete-covered waterway, reminiscent of an irrigation channel, running for about one room’s width. Through map information and research, it didn’t take long to realize that this was the Goten-zeki, one of the five weirs of Yamagata, part of a network of waterways created approximately four hundred years ago during the early Edo period by Yamagata Castle’s lord, Torii Tadamasa. This network drew water from the Mamigasaki River and crisscrossed Yamagata City like a mesh, providing irrigation.”


Goten-seki has been utilized as an irrigation source for agriculture, domestic water supply, and a waterside space within the city from the Edo period to the present day. However, particularly during the post-war period of rapid economic growth, it faced challenges with the inflow of domestic and industrial wastewater, leading to water quality deterioration. The originally stone-built embankments were gradually covered in concrete, and in some instances, portions of the waterway were placed underground. In recent years, due to the widespread implementation of public sewage systems and the efforts of local residents in cleaning activities, the waterway is gradually recovering its original, cleaner flow.


When the designer saw the clean stream, they envisioned creating a semi-outdoor space with a large canopy and an adjacent waterside plaza for the Yamagata Prefectural Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall. Such a proposal, based on this concept, was selected as the best among several competition entries and was put into action. The waterside plaza is designed to be at the same level as the building’s first floor, connecting the interior and exterior as a semi-outdoor space. It was also constructed to be a few steps lower than road level, taking into consideration the water level during flooding, while ensuring proximity to the water. Furthermore, considering the position of the Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall in the urban context, it could potentially serve as an intermediate point along the “Sakura Walking Path,” connecting Kajo Park, a famous cherry blossom spot in Yamagata City, to the Mamigasaki Riverbank Cherry Tree Avenue. To enhance this aspect, three Jindai Akabono cherry trees were planted in the plaza.


In December 2017, the Yamagata Prefectural Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall was completed, and the waterway, which had been hidden in the gaps between buildings, became noticeable to passersby. However, since the waterway is managed by the city of Yamagata and water associations, it was not possible to alter the structure of the embankments. As a result, the waterway remained covered in concrete and, although clean, appeared mundane, much like a typical water channel. Moreover, there were no indications that it was the “Goten-seki.” Consequently, even if tourists or local residents stumbled upon the waterway and recognized its existence, they had no means of learning about its historical significance as the Goten-zeki.


About a year after the completion of the Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall, the City Planning Policy Division of Yamagata City contacted the designer, stating, “As part of a public project, we have decided to improve the landscape of the Goten-seki in front of the Yamagata Prefectural Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall. We would like your advice as the designer of the tax accountant hall and waterside plaza.” While Yamagata City had previously embraced urban development centered around the Yamagata Go-seki, they had veered away from this new practice in recent years. Consequently, it seemed that the idea of the city taking responsibility for urban landscape development, including the areas around the waterway adjacent to the privately constructed waterside plaza at Goten-seki, had gained traction. For the designer, who had believed it was impossible to make any changes to the publicly owned waterway, it was unexpected good news.


Subsequently, the designer took on the role of the overall supervisor and designer for the landscape development of Goten-seki in front of the tax accountant hall, including the side facing the road. They engaged in multiple meetings with the city of Yamagata, the implementing design collaborator Daiyo Sokuryo Sekkei, and others to consider how to create a waterside space that balances historical preservation while ensuring that passersby could approach the water’s edge with ease. Additionally, the challenge was to incorporate features that could disseminate information about Goten-seki, provide a sense of approachability, and foster an environment conducive to the ecosystem. The project required careful consideration while also taking into account various constraints in the urban environment, including the presence of existing buildings and structures.


Recovering the Edo period cobblestones from within the concrete embankment, while a desire, was abandoned due to considerations for the adjacent property. Instead, the width of the waterway was slightly reduced. To achieve a look reminiscent of the Edo period cobblestones, stones were sourced from the Zao mountain range’s andesite quarry. Careful selection was made with regard to size, and they were affixed to the surface.


The waterside plaza is enclosed in the shape of a concentric circular arc, aligning with the building’s curtain wall, and it slightly extends beyond the public-private boundary toward the waterway side. This was made possible through a comprehensive agreement between the city of Yamagata, responsible for the management of Goten-seki, and the Yamagata Prefectural Certified Public Tax Accountant Association, the building’s owner. In this agreement, the city agreed to fund the development of the waterside plaza and waterside space to provide a beautiful landscape and a comfortable environment. In return, the Yamagata Prefectural Certified Public Tax Accountant Association agreed to open the waterside plaza, originally private property, to the public and tourists, ensuring that passersby could freely access the water’s edge. This agreement made it possible for the first time.


In the waterway in front of the tax accountant hall, two weirs (granite-made structures that dam the water and give it a certain depth for functionality as a waterway) were installed. These weirs serve a dual purpose. Firstly, they help maintain the functionality of the waterway by adjusting the water gate operation to ensure that even when the water flow is temporarily stopped, the waterway does not dry up, and the waterside’s appearance remains intact. Secondly, they are intended to create cascading water effects when crossing the weirs, adding to the visual appeal of the water. The design of the waterway’s plan, cross-section shape, and the height of the weirs, which can be modified by the waterside plaza, were carefully considered not only from an aesthetic perspective but also after technical validation, including hydraulic calculations and assessments.


To allow visitors to have a direct view of the Goten-seki in the flow, observation decks or platforms were constructed on both sides of the road intersecting with the Goten-seki. These platforms were designed with two colors of granite, which will not wear out, and embedded with the characters “御殿堰” (Goten-zeki). On the side facing the tax accountant hall, information boards were installed to introduce the history of the Yamagata Go-seki and the Goten-zeki.


In this way, more than three years after the completion of the Yamagata Prefectural Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall, the Goten-zeki landscape improvement project in front of the hall was finished in April 2021. Approximately a year and a half later, the Goten-zeki in front of the Yamagata Prefectural Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall has seen the proliferation of Baikamo algae, which are said to grow only in clean water. Additionally, aquatic organisms such as small fish and insects now inhabit the area. Moss has begun to grow in the soil intentionally placed on top of the cobblestones and in the gaps between the stones, slowly restoring the landscape that was once present at the Goten-zeki.


This project began with the proposal for the waterside plaza submitted by participants in the design competition for the Yamagata Prefectural Certified Public Tax Accountant Hall in 2016. It was only after the construction of the building that the government recognized its potential and partnered with it. In this way, the project succeeded in restoring the historical significance of the city lost during the period of high economic growth and creating an attractive waterside space, a pocket park, that both citizens and tourists can enjoy. It’s a unique and remarkable case in this regard.


There may be numerous public parks and spaces across the country that were initially developed within the framework of public-private partnerships. However, the initiative of a private entity that eventually expanded to become a public project, resulting in a collaborative urban landscape development project involving both public and private sectors within six years, and in turn, the rejuvenation of a historic waterway while creating a new place of relaxation and tranquility in the city, could be considered, to put it somewhat dramatically, a miracle that could only occur when several coincidences and the dedicated efforts of many stakeholders came together. The role of design played a significant part in this process, and in the landscape development carried out through repeated dialogues with the surrounding existing environment and history, it seems that design played a pivotal role. (Hidehiro Yano)




Here are the related blog posts we have published so far. If you would like to learn more about the project, please take a look. Click on the titles to view the full articles.

GOOD DESIGN2021受賞_都市景観デザイン[歴史的水路「御殿堰」の再生]



歴史的水路「御殿堰」の再生 GOOD DESIGN 2021 受賞記念展示


六日町の町屋がGOOD DESIGN 2019を受賞しました



(All the photos  are taken by Mr. Shigeo Ogawa.)


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