Iwami Ginzan Mine in Shimane
Visit the fascinating Iwami Ginzan silver mines in Shimane Prefecture, once the font of the shogunate’s wealth
Oda City, Shimane Prefecture
Hidden away in the forested mountains of Shimane Prefecture, this now-tranquil spot once produced a third of the world’s silver. Mined from 1527 until 1923, Iwami Ginzan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been preserved to highlight its important past.
The area is vast, so the best spot for starting your exploration is the World Heritage Center, where maps and shuttles help you find your way around. Of the around 1,000 mine shafts throughout Iwami Ginzan, the Ryugenji shaft is the main one open to visitors, who can creep through the cool passage and learn about the treacherous manual labor involved in mining silver.
Two kilometers away is the town of Omori, the administrative and commercial hub of Iwami Ginzan since the early 1600s. The town has been designated a historic district, and you can wander through the streets lined with red tile-roofed buildings, such as former samurai houses, the homes of wealthy silver merchants, the former magistrate’s office, and several shops and cafes.
Yunotsu Port was the main source of supplies for Iwami Ginzan. The port flourished thanks to the deep bay surrounded by steep cliffs that protected it from fierce waves and winds.
How to get there
Take the Sanyo Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station (about 1 hour 30 minutes). The Iwami Ginzan bus stop is a 2 hour 30 minutes highway bus ride from Hiroshima Station.
1597-3 Omori-cho, Oda-shi, Shimane-ken