Iwami Ginzan, an old silver mining village  石見銀山

October 2017,
Relentless rain all night and no let up this morning. We are planning a trip to Iwami Ginzan, a pre-Edo era silver mine that was still operating in the early Showa period. We know this involves a 45-minute walk, so are reluctant to go there until the weather improves; as the forecast promises.

Finally, we set off in the opposite direction and drive along the coast towards Izumo Taisha though we have no intent to visit that place again. We just want to view the coastline. Reaching the Taisha, we turn around and head back the same way we have come. The sky, out over the sea, is indeed brightening though the rain hasn’t noticed.

Iwami Ginzan, Edo era silver mine

After driving another hour, we reach the silver mine area. The rain has eased as we park in the huge parking area at World Heritage Centre and take a local bus which acts as a shuttle to Ohmori silver mining village.

*bus fare ; 240 yen / World Heritage Centre to Omori Daikansho-ato

Ohmori Ginzan Villedge

Ohmori Ginzan Villedge

Some of this village dates from the Edo period but mostly not. We have an early lunch as there is a long walk ahead. The food in the small restaurant was very good value at 900-yen but spoilt, for my taste, by being too liberal with the sauce.

Ohmori Ginzan Villedge at Iwami

Ohmori Ginzan Village

The walk, uphill through the valley in which the village lies, is not arduous and follows the tarmac road but there is no or very little traffic. It is possible to hire electric motor assisted bicycles if a round trip walk of one and a half hours is too daunting. The village is not especially Edo but some old buildings are open to the public.

We reach the Ryugenji Mabu mine entrance just as the rain returns. The walk through the Edo era mine shaft is not very long but the side shafts, which are off limits, give some indication of how exhausting and hazardous the task of extracting the ore from such narrow crevasses must have been.

entrance of Ryugenji Mabu

Entrance to Ryugenji Mabu Mine


Ryugenji Mabu

Ryugenji Mabu














The mine was founded in 1526 and finally closed in 1927 and, what astounded me, was that, in the 16th. Century, one third of the world’s silver came from Japan and, most of that, from this one location.

The site of this mine is therefore very extensive but the amount open to the public miniscule. Many other shaft entrances are evident but securely blocked with iron grills.

*Ryugenji Mabu ; 410 yen / adult

Abu Machi michi no eki

We return to our car after a wet walk(nearly 2 hours) and short bus ride. The bus runs every 15 minutes so there is no wait involved.

Our michi no eki for the night is Abu Machi , still an hour and a half away, so we will not get there in daylight. We have stopped at this michi no eki before but never stayed. We have high hopes as it is modern, spacious and has an onsen and a restaurant. I think it also has a swimming pool. The route is R.9. and R. 191 so no mysterious mountain passes. We arrive at michi no eki Abu Machi about 7pm having picked up supplies at a supermarket in Hamada. We set up the shades and the table in the car and head for the onsen. This is disappointingly small, but functional, 20 lockers, no rotenburo and just a single bath and sauna. Still it is good to get clean.

*Kashima no yu onsen ; 500 yen / adult

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