Silver Mine

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine (Ryugenji Mabu Mine Shaft)

A mountain mine that once supplied much of the world’s silver

The Iwami Ginzan silver mine is a historic site located in Shimane, japan. It is a mountain mine that was once one of the largest producers of silver in the world. With over 600 mine shafts dug into the mountains, the Iwami Ginzan silver mine was a bustling hub of activity during its peak. Today, visitors can explore the mine shafts and learn about the history of silver mining in the region.

The Ryugenji Mabu Mine Shaft is one of the many mine shafts that can be visited at Iwami Ginzan. It was excavated in 1715 and stretches for 600 meters. Visitors can explore a significant portion of the mine shaft and see the marks on the walls where the miners dug out the tunnel. The shaft is well-illuminated by electric light, making it easy for visitors to explore.

At its peak, the Iwami Ginzan silver mine produced 38 tons of silver a year. The mine operated for 400 years, making it one of the longest-operating mines in Japan. The silver mined at Iwami Ginzan was highly sought after and was traded with the Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese.

To visit the mine, visitors can start from Omori, which is located three kilometers down the valley. Since no vehicles are allowed in the mine area, visitors have the option to walk, rent an electric bicycle, or take a human-powered velotaxi to reach their destination. The journey to the mine is part of the experience, as visitors can enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

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One of the remarkable features of the Iwami Ginzan silver mine is its temperature. The mine and its shafts maintain a mild temperature throughout the seasons, making it a comfortable place to explore. As visitors venture deeper into the mine, they may come across narrower shafts that head off into the mountain. These narrower shafts were dug by the miners to extract silver from hard-to-reach areas. The marks left by the tools used to dig these narrow shafts can still be seen on the walls of the mine.

For those feeling more adventurous, there is an option to take a guided tour of an older, longer mine shaft called Okubo Mabu. This shaft is narrower, wetter, and more uneven than the Ryugenji Mabu shaft. It is only illuminated by an occasional light bulb, adding to the sense of adventure. However, the tour does not operate during the winter when the Okubo Mabu shaft is inhabited by a large number of bats. The tour is usually conducted in Japanese, but arrangements can be made for an English-speaking guide upon request. Visitors can make a booking at the World Heritage Center.

The Iwami Ginzan silver mine is not only a place of historical significance but also a natural habitat for bats. The Okubo Mabu shaft is particularly known as the domain of the bats. It is home to a large population of bats, especially during the winter months. As visitors explore the mine, they may catch glimpses of these fascinating creatures hanging from the ceilings or flying around.

In conclusion, the Iwami Ginzan silver mine is a remarkable historical site that offers visitors a glimpse into the world of silver mining. With its numerous mine shafts and rich history, it is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The mine’s contribution to the global silver trade and its cultural significance make it an important site to preserve and explore. Whether exploring the Ryugenji Mabu Mine Shaft or venturing into the domain of the bats in the Okubo Mabu shaft, visitors are sure to have a memorable experience at the Iwami Ginzan silver mine.

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Address And Maps Location:

183, Ni, Omori-cho, Oda-shi, Shimane-ken

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