Iwami Area

Shimane, Chugoku

Iwami Ginzan, listed as a World Heritage Cultural Site. A cityscape that quietly tells the tale of its vestige of prosperity.

In 2007, Iwami Ginzan (silver mine) in the city of Ohda, Shimane Prefecture was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The mine enjoyed a long history before it closed in 1923. Silver was said to have been discovered there in 1526. In 1533, innovative refining techniques were introduced from South Korea, and with them the production of silver dramatically increased.

The main reasons why the mine ruins were listed as a World Heritage Site are:
1. Iwami Ginzan played an important role of economic and cultural exchange of global importance.
2. The evidences concerning silver production methods based on traditional techniques are well preserved in many areas.
3. Complete industrial system, from silver production to shipment is displayed in it entirely.

The inclusion of the mine in the list of World Heritage Sites offered an opportunity to construct the Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center. Through displays showing the mine's history and technology and a reconstruction of the refinery, everything about Iwami Ginzan is introduced in a manner that is easy to understand.

The vestige of the prosperity of Iwami Ginzan is reflected in the view of Omori-machi. About one kilometer from the magistrate's office, there still remain merchants' houses, inns, samurai residences and other structures in the area, once bustled as the center of the silver mine administration. This sight alone is enough to give you an idea how well Iwami Ginzan prospered. The scenery can be said to be full of variety as the result of differences in architectural style, reflecting the character and job position of each owner. As though wrapped by the surrounding nature, the area quietly recounts its rich history. Like Omori-machi, Yunotsu-machi has been designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings. The town once prospered as a port for the shipment of silver, and the former residence of the shipping agent and traditional Japanese-style inns still remain in a limited area. Part of the town's charm is the historical scenery resulting from its two different characters, that of a port town and that of a hot spring area.


From Tokyo:
[Air] 1h 30 min from Haneda to Izumo Airport, and 30 min from Izumo-shi (city) to Ohda-shi (city) Station by JR Sanin Line (limited-stop express). From Ohda Bus Center, it takes 30 min to Omori Daikansho-ato by bus.
From Osaka:
[Rail] 1h 20 min from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima Station by JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line "Nozomi," and 2h 10 min from Hiroshima to Hamada Station by the highway bus "Isaribi." From Hamada Station, it takes 1h to Ohda-shi Station by JR Sanin Line.

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