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Ashio Copper Mine

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Explore the mine by trolley and learn about its 400 years of history at the nearby museum




Once one of Japan’s most important industrial sites, the 400-year-old Ashio Copper Mine in Tochigi is now a tourist attraction. Boarding a trolley, you can travel along a dimly lit section of the former mine tunnel. The harsh reality of ore mining in past centuries is recreated with realistic mannequins located along the tunnel.


Copper was first discovered at Mt Bizen Tateyama in 1610 and permission to mine it was granted by the Edo Shogunate in 1613. At its peak in the late 19th century Ashio Copper Mine produced about 1,200 tons a year, about half of the country’s total output, making it the number one copper mine in Japan.


Also in Ashio, Furukawa Ashio History Museum has exhibitions on the history of the mine and the refining process of copper from ore. The mine is located beside the Watarase River, along which is also located Furukawa Kakemizu Club. Dating from the early 20th century, this handsome wooden building was used as accommodation for guests to the mine during that period.


How to get there


Ashio is 50 minutes by bus from either JR Nikkō Station or Tōbu-Nikkō Station. The mine is a short walk from Ashio Dozan Kanko Mae bus stop.



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