The “Incline Lift” (Sosui Canal), Kyoto, c. 1910
“At Otsu we embarked with our rickshaws in a canal boat bound for Kioto.
“This canal is curiously contrived. The waters of Lake Biwa are admitted through a lock, the only one on the whole length of the canal which is constructed at such a slope that a boat will travel from Otsu to Kioto at a speed of nearly eight miles an hour.
“The canal is tunnelled through the mountains, so that most of the journey is made underground with no light save that given by the one paper lantern which the boatman carries in his hand. As we drifted swiftly through the gloom along this Styx-like stream, we occasionally passed a similarly lit boat being laboriously hauled up hand over hand against the current by means of a rope fastened to one side of the tunnel wall.
“The canal ends abruptly on some high ground above Kioto, and the boat is floated into a frame fixed on a rope railway; in this way it can be transferred to another canal which runs through Kioto at a considerably lower level.”
– A Jaunt in Japan, Or, Ninety Days’ Leave in the Far East, by Capt. S.C.F. Jackson, D.S.O., 1899