Stroll through a 400-year-old gold mine
Sado Island, known as The Island of Gold, is a remote island located on the Sea of japan. With a total length of 400 kilometers, the tunnel dug for the gold mine on Sado Island is approximately the same distance as from Tokyo to Sado. This historic gold mine offers visitors the opportunity to explore its underground tunnels and learn about its 400-year history.
One of the highlights of visiting the Sado Island gold mine is taking a walk through the pitch-black tunnel. This unique experience allows visitors to step back in time and imagine what it was like for the miners who worked in the mine centuries ago. Additionally, there is a museum on the island where visitors can learn about the history of gold mining on Sado Island and even touch a real gold bar.
How to Get There
Sado Island is located 45 kilometers west of Niigata City in the Sea of Japan. To reach the island, visitors can take a high-speed jetfoil or a car ferry. The jetfoil is a hydrofoil that flies over the ocean using a high-pressure jet of seawater. From Niigata Port to Sado’s Ryotsu Port, the journey takes approximately 65 minutes by jetfoil or 2 hours and 30 minutes by car ferry. Once on the island, visitors can take a 70-minute bus ride from Ryotsu Port to the Historic Site Sado Gold Mine. Alternatively, there is also a jetfoil route from Niigata’s Naoetsu Port to Sado’s Ogi Port, which takes approximately 75 minutes, followed by a 90-minute bus ride to the Historic Site Sado Gold Mine.
The Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine on Sado Island is representative of the many gold and silver mines found on the island. It was funded by the Tokugawa shogunate during the Edo period (1603-1867). Although the mine is no longer operational, there are walking courses available for visitors to explore the tunnels and learn about the mining history.
Learn about the history of gold in Japan
Sado Island spans an area of 855 square kilometers, making it approximately 1.5 times the size of Guam or Phuket. The island is known for its numerous mines, and gold mining began as early as the 12th century. Over the years, a total of 78 tons of gold and over 2,330 tons of silver were produced on Sado Island. The Sado Gold and Silver Mines encompass various gold and silver mines on the island, including the Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine. The mine was fully developed in 1601 and operated for nearly 400 years until its closure in 1989. During its operation, the mine was involved in all aspects of gold and silver production, including mining and the manufacturing of koban coins. Today, the mine has been transformed into a tourist facility known as the Historic Site Sado Gold Mine, where visitors can learn about mining technology and production methods while exploring heritage sites such as mine shafts and ore dressing facilities.
A tunnel that spreads out like an ant nest
The Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine has an incredible total length of 400 kilometers. A portion of the mine is open to the public as a sightseeing route within the Historic Site Sado Gold Mine. There are two types of courses available to visitors. The Sohdayu Tunnel Mine course takes approximately 30 minutes and recreates the mining experience of the Edo period. Visitors can explore the hand-dug tunnels and see dolls and tools used during that time. The Dohyu Tunnel course, on the other hand, is a tunnel that was excavated during the Meiji era. This 40-minute course takes visitors through the mine carts and crushing yard, which have been preserved since that time. During the tour, visitors can also witness the Doyu-no-Warito Opencut, which is a part of the Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine that cracked due to mining.
The inside of the tunnel is around 10 Celsius
When visiting the tunnels, it is important to dress appropriately. The inside of the tunnel can be quite cold, with temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius. It is recommended to wear long sleeves and sturdy footwear. The ground inside the tunnel can be slippery, so visitors should exercise caution and watch their step. Please note that there are no toilet facilities inside the tunnel. However, there are toilets available at the museum located near the entrance of the gold mine. At the museum, visitors can see a diorama showcasing the mining process and the production of koban gold coins. Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to hold a real gold bar, providing a hands-on experience with the precious metal.
Stroll around town at the foot of the gold mine and visit famous sightseeing spots
The town at the foot of the Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine offers various attractions for visitors to explore. At the Gold and Silver Mine Guidance Facility Kirarium Sado, visitors can take a commemorative photo with a giant koban coin, a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Another notable attraction is the Historic Site of Sado Bugyosho Site (Sado Magistrate’s Office), where visitors can tour a restored Edo period smelter and gain insight into the island’s history. The Kitazawa Flotation Plant, which operated during the early Showa period, is also worth a visit. This large plant was used for sorting ore and provides a glimpse into the mining operations of that time.
While exploring the town, visitors can also try sake that has been aged in the Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine. The unique aging process gives the sake a distinct flavor. Additionally, visitors can enjoy cultural events on the island, such as the Earth Celebration performed by the taiko drumming ensemble Kodo. The Sado Museum of History and Legend is another must-visit destination for those interested in learning more about the traditional culture and folklore of Sado Island.
In conclusion, a visit to Sado Island’s Historic Site Sado Gold Mine offers a fascinating journey into the island’s rich mining history. From walking through the pitch-black tunnels to learning about the techniques used in gold and silver production, visitors can immerse themselves in the island’s past. With its stunning natural beauty and cultural attractions, Sado Island is a destination that should not be missed by those seeking a unique and enriching travel experience.
Address And Maps Location:
1305 Shimoaikawa, Sado-shi, Niigata-ken