Opening of the Kyoto electric streetcar system (1895) commemorative postcard, c. 1905.

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Opening of the Kyoto electric streetcar system (1895) commemorative postcard, c. 1905. Kyoto Electric Railway began operations in 1895, Japan’s first electric streetcar system, utilizing hydroelectric power generated by the Lake Biwa Canal. Center inset photo shows a tram carriage interior.

See also:
The “Incline Lift”, Kyoto, c. 1910.
Tokyo Streetcars (Tokyo Toden), c. 1910-1920.

“The most complete electric plant in Japan, and one which would do credit to any country, is at the Kyoto City Electric Works, and it is all the more interesting from the fact that its conception, design, installations, and working are all due to Japanese enterprise and intelligence.

“… Another interesting feature in this concern is the water supply, which is taken from Lake Biwa, some six miles distant from the works in Kyoto. This necessitated a careful survey, and involved considerable expense in tunneling and constructing aqueducts, etc.

“There are at present about twenty dynamos in constant use, most of the recent ones being three-phase machines, and in purchasing these the company has been very impartial in their choice as among the makers’ names on these machines I noticed Edison, Stanley, Thomsom-Houston, Siemens, and Mitsui. Their total efficiency is put at 955 kilowatts and 18,500 volts.

“… Among these users are the Electric Tram Company, whose length of line is about eight miles … for its capacity, one of the busiest tram lines in the world.”

“Modern Japan: Industrial and Scientific”, The Engineer, February 1897

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