Iwami Ginzan

Iwami Silver Mine - Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine

Useful Information

Location: Omori, Ohda City in Shimane Prefecture
Classification: MineSilver Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=600 m, T=16 °C.
Guided tours: L=172 m, V=710.000/a [2007].
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1526 mine opened by Jutei Kamiya, a wealthy merchant from Hakata in Kitakyushu.
1533 silver refining technology called haibuki introduced.
1715 Ryugenji Mabu built.
1923 mine closed.
1943 Ryugenji Mabu closed.
1969 became a National Designated Historical Site.
1987 the area became a national preservation area of important traditional buildings.
2001 submitted for the UNESCO WHL.
JUN-2007 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.



The Iwami Silver Mine is an important silver mine of Japan, and was probably the most important silver mine during the 16th century. During the first half of the 17th century it produced about 38 tons per year. This was the majority of the silver produced in Japan. At this time Japan produced one third of the worlds silver. Japan was called the Silver Archipelago by the Spanish. And silver had a central role in East Asian trade, as it was used as a international key currency. The mine produced silver coins, which were actually oval shaped silver plates with inscriptions called chogin.

The whole area with many mining related locations is protected today. Beneath above ground building, furnaces and harbours, there are several mine tunnels which were excavated and one is now open to the public. It is named Ryugenji Mabu.

The mining area with several historic sites was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007 unter the name Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape. It was the 14th World Heritage Site in Japan and the first mining site in Asia on the list.