An unusual setting where history and present merge – Sayamaike Museum

An unusual setting where history and present merge – Sayamaike Museum

Osaka is known for flood control and about 6000 to 7000 years ago during the Jomon period, Osaka was under water with the Kami-machi area jutting out like an island. As soil built up with the repeated flooding of Yodo River and Yamato River, the current form of Osaka came to be in the fifth century.
The flatland of Osaka is blessed with rivers and other water sources, giving it the name “Water Capital”.

On the other hand, the landscape makes it prone to flooding, requiring flood control. The history of Sayamaike, located in the southeast portion of Osaka and a 10-minute walk from Osaka Sayama station, is quite long. The reservoir was made in 616, making it the oldest dam reservoir, and is listed in many historical documents.
The area around the reservoir is a park where locals enjoy leisurely strolls.

“It was originally created to address the lack of water needed for rice farming. Many improvements and repairs have been made, and its main purpose is to protect the lives and property of the citizens living downstream.” (Katsunobu Yoshii, Sayamaike Museum assistant curator)
The museum opened in 2001 after the 16 year construction to update the dam and now houses the historical portions of the original dam.

The impressive concrete building was designed by architect Tadao Ando, who is originally from Osaka. It is now considered an icon. “It certainly represents Mr. Ando, but I couldn’t tell what it was from the exterior.” (Nakata)

Stepping into the building escorted by the curator, we were welcomed by a large waterfall running down a concrete wall. The sound of water was pleasant, but it was a surprising sight. Visitors walk under the waterfall to enter the main portion of the museum.
Displayed here is a stratum sample from the original dam measuring an impressive 15 meters by 60 meters. The large scale display relays the 1400 history.

“People wonder how we were able to get this huge piece into the museum. We broke it up into 101 pieces and spent 3 years to treat the pieces, putting them back together when the museum was completed.” (Mr. Yoshii)

An architectural museum brings images of a very dull setting, but this strata sample with 1400 years of history is a sight to behold. It symbolizes the relationship Japan as a country has with water and nature, and is housed in an ultra-modern building. We recommend a leisurely stroll to the museum after you’ve filled up on the local cuisine.


Osaka Prefectural Sayamaike Museum
2 Ikejirinaka, Osaka Sayama-shi, Osaka
TEL 072-367-8891 Museum hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Closures: Mondays (Tuesdays in case Monday is a bank holiday), Year End and New Years