Map of the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Site

Right: Iwami Ginzan from the Sea of Japan (West)
Right: Iwami Ginzan from the Sea of Japan (West)

Left: Inside the Fences (Aerial View of Mt. Sennoyama)
Left: Inside the Fences (Aerial View of Mt. Sennoyama)

Map of the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Site



Silver Mine Site and Mining Towns

The silver mine was in operation from the early 16th century to the early 20th century, with many aspects of development in the mining area remaining today. Along with this, the mining towns which flourished and mountain fortress sites which protected the mine also remain.

(1) Ginzan Sakunouchi The main section of the silver mine was developed in the early 16th century and operated until the 20th century. Literally meaning メinside the fences,モ the area was surrounded by fences and rigidly controlled in the early Edo Period. There are well preserved structures and artifacts that reveal the lifestyle, physical distribution, popular beliefs and ruling system of the mine, as well as detailing silver production itself.
(2) Daikansho Site (Site of the Magistrateユs Office) The central facility of the governing system at Iwami Ginzan was relocated from Ginzan Sakunouchi to the Omori Zone in the 17th century. The Omotemon (front gate) and the Mon-Nagaya (terrace house) were rebuilt circa 1800.
(3) Yataki-jo Site (Site of Mountain Fortress) This is one of the mountaintop fortresses which was built to defend Iwami Ginzan. The Yunotsu Okidomari-do runs alongside this site.
(4) Yahazu-jo Site (Site of Mountain Fortress) This is one of the mountaintop fortresses which was built to defend Iwami Ginzan. The castle looks out towards Yataki-jo on the other side of the Yunotsu Okidomari-do . This is a good example of the typical location and layout of medieval mountaintop castles in Japan.
(5) Iwami-jo Site (Site of Mountain Fortress) This is one of the mountaintop fortresses which was built to defend Iwami Ginzan. It was responsible for defense along the road heading towards Nima.
(6) Omori-Ginzan Important Preservation District
for Groups of Historic Buildings
This district developed with the rise of the silver mine as a hub for the more than 150 villages around Iwami Ginzan under the direct control of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Many former samurai residences, merchants' houses, temples and shrines coexist harmoniously. This site was designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings by the Japanese National Government (1987).

(7) Miyanomae

This silver smelting refinery was built between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century. It was discovered near the Daikansho Site in the Omori Zone.
(8) House of the Kumagai Family This is the largest merchant house in the Omori Zone. It is a good example of townhouse architecture that illustrates the social position and daily life of powerful merchants.
(9) Gohyakurakan (Rakan-ji Temple) Five hundred stone statues of seated Buddhist arhats and a Shakamuni statue are enshrined in three stone caves carved into the bedrock. Crafted in the mid 18th century, these remains of popular belief epitomize the stonemasonry culture at Iwami Ginzan.



Kaido (Transportation Routes)

Transportation routes for silver, silver ore and supplies, connecting Iwami Ginzan with two ports.

(10) Iwami Ginzan Kaido (Transportation Route)
Tomogaura-do
This 7km long trade route was used at the time when silver and silver ore was being shipped from Tomogaura Port.
(11) Iwami Ginzan Kaido (Transportation Route)
Yunotsu Okidomari-do
This 12km route connects the silver mine with Yunotsu Okidomari, an outer port for Iwami Ginzan. This route continued to serve as a trunk road between the silver mine and the port even after the Onomichi-do opened in the early 17th century.



Ports and Port Towns

Two ports, from which silver and silver ore from Iwami Ginzan were shipped, developed along with three settlements.

(12) Tomogaura This port was used for shipping silver ore to Hakata in the early to mid 16th century. The many hanaguri-iwa (mooring devices) for ships carved out of the rock cliff and other remains give us a glimpse of what the port must have looked like in medieval times. This is a rare example of a settlement that still retains the land use plan of the port's heyday.
(13) Okidomari This port was used for approximately 40 years during the late 16th century to transport silver, to provide supplies to Iwami Ginzan, and as a military base. The sites of two fortresses and hanaguri-iwa provide some indication of what the port must have been like in its day. This port and Yunotsu Town have seen a long history. This settlement still retains the land use plan of the port's heyday.
(14) Yunotsu Important Preservation District
for Groups of Historic Buildings
This port town with hot springs was developed as an outer port for Iwami Ginzan. The layout of the town remains unchanged from the Edo Period, with many traditional buildings preserved to this day, such as tradesman's houses, shipping agents, hot spring inns, temples and shrines. This is the only hot spring town designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings by the Japanese National Government (2004).


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