Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center

Iwami Ginzan Day 1

From Iwami Ginzan
World Heritage Center
to Shimizudani Smelter
Ruins and Ryugenji Mabu

Dustin Kidd
Hannah Grace
Hannah GraceHannah's pointcommentary

I’m glad Dustin took me to the Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center first. It sort of gave me an introduction to everything we were going to see. The exhibits are immersive and help you get a sense for how people lived during the heyday of the silver mining industry. But nothing beats seeing the mines themselves and looking at the actual spots where you can see the remnants of the work done there. The surrounding forest is beautiful. I definitely recommend getting a hot soba meal after a hike up to the mines. The soba at restaurant Oomori was the best I’ve ever eaten!

Iwami Ginzan Day 1

Iwami Ginzan
World Heritage Center

The Ginzan Cultural Center gave me my first taste of the mines. To be honest, I knew almost nothing about the history of Ginzan mining before this trip. I was lucky to have Dustin there to explain the exhibits, since our time there was limited.
The life-size picture of the mine entrance surprised me, because it just looked like a giant rock-face. For some reason I’d never imagined the entrance to a mine looking like that big dark gash on the side of a mountain.
If I get to go back, I think I’ll spend more time there reading the descriptions beside the displays.
There’s so much history there.
The museum was really interactive, From the life-sized displays to the giant hunk of silver you could try to lift. (hint: it’s super heavy!) But, one of my favorite exhibits was the virtual reality tour of the mountainside. The view from the top is breathtaking!

The Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center is a great place to start your trip, particularly if it’s your first time to the area. The displays are set up to help you understand just why Iwami Ginzan has been designated as a World Heritage Site. There’s plenty to see there, so take your time! The staff can also help you decide what sights you want to see in the area. And be sure not to miss the VR experience, which will let you see Iwami Ginzan from some unique perspectives!

Dustin KiddDustin Kidd
Iwami Ginzan Day 1

Restaurant Omori

There are few things more relaxing than a hot bowl of noodles on a brisk winter day. Restaurant Oomori’s stream-side balcony seating with its mountain view, though, takes the experience to another level.
Soba noodles are a local specialty of the area, and I have to say, they were the best I’ve ever had. I thought the portion looked big… but I ate the whole thing!

This restaurant is right at the entrance to the town of Omori, which is the town that prospered when silver production from the mine was at its peak. The weather was perfect for a lunch outside, and it really added to the atmosphere of the meal. There’s a decent selection on the menu, and it’s a good spot to rest before (or even after) a walk through town!

Dustin KiddDustin Kidd
Iwami Ginzan Day 1

Shimizudani Smelter Ruins

The hike to Shimizudani was fantastic. If you love woods like I do, you’ll be tempted by all the little trails that branch off from the main path that winds up the slope. Dustin showed me a really cool feature of the sight. If you have an ipad, you can use the QR codes on display to see a digital projection of what the smelter site looked like at its peak! There are even little virtual people walking up and down the slopes.

This is quite possibly my favorite place to visit in the whole Iwami Ginzan area. It’s a more modern smelting site, but even so, it was closed down in the early part of the 20th century and is slowly returning to the natural surroundings. The deep greens of the grass growing over the structure makes you feel like you’ve wandered into an area much more ancient than it really is. The app that recreates what it may have looked like when it was an active smelting site adds another perspective to the already fascinating place.

Dustin KiddDustin Kidd
Iwami Ginzan Day 1

Ryugenji Mabu

The entrance to Ryugenji Mabu is so picturesque! Like something from a storybook!
There are all sorts of little shafts and holes jutting off from the main one. Of course, they’re blocked off, but you can still see remnants of ladders where the miners climbed up into the high crevices.

At the far end of the road through Omori, this is one of the major active mining areas in the Iwami Ginzan area, and the only one easily accessible to the public. It may seem like “just a cave”, but if you take your time and look around as you walk through it, you’ll see an amazing variety of examples of what went on in that mine. Hopefully, you’re not claustrophobic, because it’s not a very big space. Just imagine having to work in some of the areas that shoot off from the main pathway!

Dustin KiddDustin Kidd
Walking down the shaft you can start to imagine what the lives of the miners must have been like. The ceiling is pretty close, so watch out for the bats! I could have reached out and touched them!