River Glossary

Glossary of river and water terms:

River terms:

  • 川 = river = kawa
  • 支川 = tributary = shisen しせん (aka 支流 shiryu しりゅう)

River classifications:

  • 一級河川 = first-class river
  • 二級河川 = second-class river
  • 河川法 = river law
  • 法定外河川 = non-statutory rivers
  • 準用河川 = rivers designated by municipal mayors
  • 単独水系 = single water system
  • 普通河川 = ordinary rivers

Water and land:

  • 干拓 = reclamation
  • 沼 = swamp = numa
  • 水田 = rice paddies

Canals, moats, and irrigation:

  • 流れ = flow / current / stream = nagare
  • 水源 = headwaters, water’s source = suigen すいげん
  • 水門 = a floodgate or sluice = suimon
  • 湧水 = spring = yūsui ゆうすい
  • 上水 = water supply / canal / aqueduct / waterworks / clean water / potable water; often used to describe a drinking-water canal = jōsui じょうすい
  • 水汲 = pumping water, drawing water = mizukuma
  • 海抜ゼロメートル地帯 = Zero-meter above sea-level land (Wikipedia) (article) (book)
  • 流路の直線化 = straightening (linearization) of the flow path, aka river straightening (PDF 1) (PDF 2)
  • はしご開渠 = ladder over an open channel
  • 水路 = waterway / channel / aqueduct = suiro すいろ; includes:
    1. 用水路 = irrigation channel / irrigation canal / irrigation ditch; waterway constructed for the purpose of irrigation for water supply , industrial use, etc. = yosuiro ようすいろ
    2.  放水路 = water discharge route / floodway; an artificial drainage channel / canal that branches from a river to discharge it into the ocean, etc., to prevent flooding = hōsuiro ほうすいろ (aka 分水路 = bunsuiro ぶんすいろ). Example: Arakawa Drainage Canal
    3. 溝渠 = ditch; kōkyo こうきょ
    4.  開渠 kaikyo = かいきょ
    5.  運河 = canal for the movement of a ship = うんが unga
    6.  排水路 = drainage channel = haisuiro はいすいろ
    7. 明渠 = meikyo = めいきょ
    8.  暗渠 = culvert = ankyo = あんきょ
    9.  側溝 = side ditch; side gutter = sokkō = そっこう
      • 公共溝 = public groove / public ditch (drainage ditch, e.g.)
    10. 分流 (bunryū, bunryu) = split flow, tributary, water diversion, water separation, distributary, diverging shunt
    11.  どぶ = “grooves” into which rainwater collects = dobu
    12. 雨水幹線 = rainwater “trunk line”

River shapes and formats:

Former rivers:

  • 緑道 = ryokudo りょくどう: often translated as “green road”; used to describe any number of urban walking paths lined with trees or plants; often the result of rivers or streams that have been buried underground.
  • 親水緑道 = Hydrophilic green road  [親水 (shinsui)= Hydrophilic, or, easy access to water]
  • 遊歩道 (Yūhodō / Yohodo) = promenade / esplanade = a green road may also be described as a “promenade” if it is shorter in length, especially if the promenade is located in an urban center, where the path is intended for strolling and park-like activities.

Flood-control measures and structures 洪水から防災するための仕組み:

  • 調節池 / 調整池 = retention pond / regulating basin / regulating reservoir
  • 雨水貯留施設 = rainwater storage facility
  • 雨水貯留池 = rainwater reservoir / storm-water reservoir
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