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Mito Water Tower

Two weeks ago, Asahi Shinbun ran an article in their "Retro Japan" series featuring the Mito Water Tower (水戸市水道低区配水塔 Mitoshi Suidōteiku Haisuitō), or lit. "Mito City Water Supply Low District Water Tower," a structure I remember from previous visits to the town. I found the unusual architecture remarkable but never had the chance to see the tower's interior.

Mito Water Tower

The Mito Water Tower was completed in 1932 to supply citizens in the Shimoichi area of Mito with potable water. Designed by Gotō Tsurumatsu (後藤鶴松), it consists of a concrete cylinder with a height of 21.6 metres and a diameter of 11.2 metres. A balcony-like corridor protrudes from the tower's centre, bordered by relief carvings depicting crossed hose nozzles on two upper facades and ten windows. It is also characterised by the arched windows at the top and the Gothic-style decoration above the ground floor entrance. The tower survived the war and served as a water distribution tower until 1999. In 1985, it was selected as one of the one hundred best modern waterworks.

Along with another - aesthetically more uncomplicated - water tower serving the Mito districts on higher ground and the Ashiyama water purification plant, which ceased operations in 1993, the Mito Water Tower provided a modern waterworks system in the capital of Ibaraki Prefecture. The Mito Water Tower was registered as a national tangible cultural property in 1996; its operations ended in 2000 because the tower's high centre of gravity impeded its quake resistance.

Photo of the Mito City Waterworks Department with Gotō Tsurumatsu sitting in the centre of the front row.

Gotō Tsurumatsu (後藤鶴松)

The Asahi article has more detailed photos of the tower's exterior and interior. If you visit the Kōdōkan (弘道館) in Mito, don't miss the water tower, it is about two hundred metres from Kōdōkan Park.


Address: 2-11 Kitamicho, Mito, Ibaraki 310-0061
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〒310-0061 茨城県水戸市北見町2−11

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