World Heritage Registration
A World Heritage Site is a property which, if lost, is impossible to re-create once again, a place which has immense value which must be passed down to future generations, somewhere that must be preserved at a global level, regardless of ethnicity or international boundaries. Such a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List based on the World Heritage Convention concerning the protection of the world's cultural and natural heritage.
As of July 2007, 851 properties in 141 countries have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. This site is recognized as "a mine living with nature." The Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Site, official name "Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape," was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2007. It is the 14th World Heritage Site in Japan and the first mining site to be inscribed in Asia.
World Heritage Certificate
World Famous Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine
The remains of the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine are located near the Sea of Japan coastline, on the western flank of the Japanese archipelago and the eastern end of East Asia, looking out towards China. One of Japan's most prominent mines, Iwami Ginzan was active for almost four hundred years, from its discovery in 1526 by the merchant Kamiya Jutei of Hakata, Kyushu, until its eventual closing in 1923.
Iwami Ginzan was the only silver mine in Japan known to the Europeans during the 16th century Great Age of Discovery. This is evident from the fact that maps of Japan and Asia produced in Europe during this time indicated the environs of Iwami Ginzan as the "Silver Mine Kingdom" or "Silver Mine." The silver mined at Iwami Ginzan was very high quality silver, and came to be known as "Soma Silver," because the mine itself was in the village of Sama (Soma). This silver was given the highest trading credit in East Asia.
From the late 16th century to the early 17th century, the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine flourished. It is considered that at this time, Japan produced one third of the world's silver, with the majority of this silver being Iwami Silver.
There is no denying that Iwami Ginzan played a pivotal role in East Asian trade, where silver was the key currency. The remains from the mine's prominent years are well preserved to this day.
Aerial View of Iwami Ginzan (from the North West)