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Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine
and its Cultural Landscape

  • HOME
  • Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape

Production of high quality silver supporting trade with Asia and Europe.

Production of high quality silver supporting trade with Asia and Europe. Production of high quality silver supporting trade with Asia and Europe.

The World Heritage Site "Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine" in Shimane Prefecture was Japan’s largest silver mine, supplying silver domestically and internationally from the 16th to 20th century.
At its peak, one-third of the silver circulating worldwide was from this mine and Iwami Ginzan was so well known that on maps drawn up during the Age of Discovery in Europe, it was marked as Silver Mine and Silver Mine Kingdom.
Using a cupellation method originating from the Korean peninsula, the refined silver was of top quality and highly trusted. It became known as Soma silver, named after Sama, the village near the mine and this silver sustained trade with East Asia and Europe.

Foresight into environmental issues 400 years ago.

Foresight into environmental issues 400 years ago. Foresight into environmental issues 400 years ago.

One of the reasons why Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine was designated as a World Heritage site was the site’s consideration of environmental protection, a key concept in the 21st century.
In this silver mine they planted threes systematically to constantly provide the lumber used in the silver refining process.
In addition, full thought was given to the environment by using unobtrusive methods like digging narrow tunnels to prevent the mountain collapsing.
In this way, it was recognised that the remains of the silver mine and its surrounding natural environment merged to form a cultural landscape. Due to this balance with nature, plus it being a type of mine that could be found nowhere else in the world and had an impact on cultural exchanges between East and West, it was listed as a World Heritage site.
The environmental protection measures that are now finally spreading in the 21st century were already being practised in the 16th century at Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine.
That globally acknowledge foresight is perhaps the highlight of this mine, which can be seen reflected in the mine remains and the beautiful surrounding forest.

Data

Site : Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape
Location : Shimane Prefecture
Date of Inscription : 2007
Minor modification inscribed year : 2010
Criteria : (ii) (iii) (v)
Property : 529 ha
Buffer zone : 3,134 ha

The official website of The World Heritage Centre
"Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape"
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1246

Location map

*For the coverage of transport routes to/from Iwami Ginzan Silver mine, please refer to the map of audio guide.
No. Heritage Assets
1 Ginzan Sakunouchi
2 Daikansho Site
3 Yataki Castle Site
4 Yahazu Castle Site
5 Iwami Castle Site
6 Omori-Ginzan
7 Miyanomae
8 House of the Kumagai Family
9 Rakan-ji Gohyakurakan
10 Iwami Ginzan Kaido (Tomogaurado)
11 Iwami Ginzan Kaido (Yunotsu-Okidomarido)
12 Tomogaura
13 Okidomari
14 Yunotsu
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