HP東善寺・小栗上野介の史跡         権田村・小高用水
          Historic Site of Kozukenosuke Oguri  Kotaka Irrigation Waterway of Gonda Village


小 高(こたか)用 水

 Historic sites of Kozukenosuke Tadamasa Oguri
Kotaka Irrigation Waterway

Until shortly before his death, Kozukenosuke Oguri was making efforts to open agricultural waterways for the Kotaka villagers.

This is the place that was introduced in NHK's "Sono-toki Rekishi-ga Ugoita: Kozukenosuke Oguri." 


 With the dissolution of the shogunate due to the Meiji Restoration, Tadamasa Oguri was dismissed from his post as accountant, navy and army magistrate on January 15, 1868. On January 28, he submitted an application to the shogunate to return to Gonda Village in Joshu Province (Gunma prefecture). On the following day, he was told that he could return to his hometown, and he proceeded to make preparations for the move. On February 28, he left Edo and arrived at Tozenji Temple in Gonda Village on March 1.

Tadamasa Oguri, who wanted to live in Gonda Village and pass on new education to the young, took up temporary residence at Tozenji Temple and proceeded to build a mansion on nearby Kannonyama Mountain, surveying the waterless Kannonyama Mountain in search of a horizontal water route from the source of Koitarizawa, and quickly drew water along the ridge. This surveying may not have been done by Tadamasa himself, but rather by his adopted son, Mataichi, or a vassal who learned it from Frenchmen who were guiding the construction of the Yokosuka Shipyard. (The German method is the mainstream surveying method in Japan today.)



 「四月十二日 天気よし 朝小高の辺へ出かけ、それより水路検分のため締場(わなば)まで行き、九時過ぎ帰宅」
 「四月十四日 天気よし 朝普請場




 When the villagers of Kotaka saw this, they asked him to survey the route of water from Inasezawa, one ridge over, saying, "Our village is always in trouble because the water is too shallow to plant rice without heavy rain. Tadamasa Oguri readily agreed and immediately began surveying the water route (or ordered Mataichi or one of his retainers to do so).

"In the Oguri Diary, two related articles appear as follows.

"April 12 (May 4, 1868 AD): Weather fine, went to Kotaka in the morning and then to Wanaba to inspect the waterway, returning home after nine o'clock."
"April 14 (May 6, 1868 AD): Good weather, went to Fushinba (Kannonyama) in the morning, then to Kotaka in the afternoon to inspect the canal, and returned home in the evening" 
(Oguri Diary)

When he had almost finished his surveying in Kotaka, he was killed by the western army on leap year April 6 (May 27, 1868 AD).

(Note: Since Japan used a calendar based on the age of the moon until 1871, the seasons shifted, so the calendar was adjusted by repeating some months twice every few years. Here, April was repeated and it was called "leap year April.")

After the death of Tadamasa Oguri, the people of Kotaka proceeded to develop and complete the water supply according to the surveyed route of about one kilometer.

The water for irrigation still flows through the village as "the water drawn by Oguri-sama" and continues to moisten the rice fields. In the beginning, the waterway was dug out of the ground, but it was replaced with unglazed clay pipes, and after the war, the concrete three-sided waterway was replaced with PVC pipes. Now the pipes are buried underground, so you cannot see the water flowing in the woods along the way.

Since the pipes were laid, villagers still take turns passing "Mizuban-fuda (water guard card)" around the village to prevent trash from clogging the soil, and they always make sure to remove trash from around the water source.
 Note: These images were taken from the upper reaches of the Kotaka irrigation waterway. If you are visiting the area, please start from the last images. The source of the water is not easy to understand, so please ask the locals.
稲瀬沢の取り入れ口 大きな杉の林にある。昔は石でせきとめただけのものだった。ここから左のパイプ(地中)に導かれる。 砂溜り(沈砂池) まずいったん水に混じる砂をここで沈めて水だけにし、落葉などのゴミも金網で防ぐ。 ゴミ取りは取り入れ口と、ここと、次のゴミ枡の計三か所。 
 The inlet at Inasegawa: It is located in a forest of large cedars. In the old days, it was just a stone wall. From here, it leads to the pipe on the left (underground).  Sunadamari (settling basin): This is where the sand that mixes with the water first sinks, leaving the water alone, and where fallen leaves and other trash are prevented by a wire mesh. There are three garbage collection points: the inlet at Inasegawa, here, and the next gomimasu (trash collector).  
ゴミ枡(ます)  砂溜りの次にもう一回ここでゴミを最終チェックする。ふだんはフタをしています。このまま飲めるいい水です。 水番札(みずばんふだ) もう一枚の札が回ってくると見廻りに来て、ゴミ取りをしたあと、持参した札と取替え、次の家に回す。
 Gomimasu (trash collector): After the settling basin, the trash is checked one more time here. Normally, the lid is closed. The water is good enough to drink as it is.  Mizuban-fuda (Water Guard Tag): The people in the Kotaka area pass the water guard tag around in turn, and the person from the house that receives the tag patrols the waterway area and remove trash such as fallen leaves and tree branches in the water, then passes the tag on to the next house.
水の道  右手の尾根を越えるため、山腹に切られた水の道が杉林を横切って伸びている。水の道はほぼ水平のため歩きやすい 看板「小高用水」 戦後に部落の上でもう一本の用水を加えたから現在は太い水量となって流れている。当初は細かった。
 Water Path: A water path cut into the mountainside stretches across the cedar forest to cross the ridge on the right. The water path is almost level and easy to walk on.  Signboard "Kotaka Waterway": After the second world war, another water line was added above the village, so the water is now flowing thickly. In the beginning, it was thin flow.
浅間山 水路の途中からは角落(つのおち)山の右手に白い浅間山が顔をのぞかせているのが見える。 小高 当初、水量が細い時代はクジによる2時間交代の使用となり、真夜中でも交代でわが田に水を引いて田を守った。
 Mt. Asama: From the middle of the waterway, you can see the snow-capped white Mt. Asama peeking out to the right of Mt. Tsuno-ochi  Kotaka Village: When the water supply was thin in the beginning, the water was used in two-hour shifts by lottery, and even in the middle of the night, they took turns drawing water to protect their rice fields.
小高への道 国道406号、倉渕支所の先約300mで佐藤建設と加藤農機の間を右折、すぐの分かれ道がここ。左の道を選んで急坂を上ると小高の部落に出る。
 Road to Kotaka: On Route 406, about 300 meters ahead of the Kurabuchi Branch of Takasaki City Hall, turn right between Sato Construction and Kato Agricultural Machinery, and you will soon come to a fork in the road. Take the left road and go up the steep slope to reach the village of Kotaka.  





 Walking along the Kotaka waterway, we can see that Tadamasa Oguri was trying to live in harmony with the local people until just before he was killed for a crime he did not commit. It must have been "the days of Gonda Village burning with hope.


The "Takasaki City History, General History Edition," published just before the merger with Kurabuchi Village, summarized Oguri Tadasun's return to Gonda Village as if it was for the purpose of building a base of resistance against the Western Army (preparation for war), and therefore it was natural that he was killed.

The supporting evidence is based on old documents written by shogunal retainers at the end of the Edo period. However, no matter how many documents the people around Tadamasa Oguri wrote down on their own in the confusion at the end of the Edo period, I wonder if it is appropriate to conclude that they did not look at Oguri family's emigration as a historical fact.

See the historical facts there

In the Oguri family, Tadamasa himself, wife, mother, and infant daughter moved to Gonda Village. In the case of the Mahiko Tsukamoto family, a servant of Oguri, the whole family moved to the village with his wife, elderly mother and four infants. What kind of samurai would carry his entire family and even his plants from Edo to prepare for war?

If they had come to prepare for war, they would not have had time to survey the irrigation waterway for the Kotaka village. Walking along the waterway, which has been carefully surveyed and is still in use today, makes me realize that there are important historical documents right in front of my eyes that should not cloud our view of history.
観音山の小栗上野介邸址 …「堀に満々と水をたたえ…」と城の堀まがいに書かれた観音山用水は