Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine

Edo period

Full-scale development of Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine began in 1601, and Sado was under the control of Tokugawa Shogunate. Yamashi, mine managers, were called into Sado from Iwami, and other areas in Japan, and cutting-edge techniques in surveying, drainage, smelting (cupellation, cementation with sulfur, cementation with salt) were introduced. These techniques led Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine into one of the largest mines in the world. Later such techniques used in Sado spread all over the country. There were no other mines in Japan which conducted the operation from mining through minting koban coins, and its operation process can be seen in vividly depicted picture scrolls. More than one hundred of those scrolls still survive. You will learn the detailed transition of mining techniques and management system of the mines from those scrolls.

Doyu-no-warito opencut(Photo by Hoichi Nishiyama)

Doyu-no-warito Open-Cut

For over 400 years since the end of the 16th century, this was in operation as one of the largest gold and silver mines in Japan. This is an exceptional case in the world that historic remains and mining towns in different periods still survive in one area. Doyu-no-warito is the symbol of the Sado Gold and Silver Mine, with the remains of surface mining on the Doyu Vein in the Edo period.

Sado Gold Mine, Historic Site

The Edo-period Sodayu Tunnel and other mining facilities are open to the public. There is also a gold mine museum where visitors can learn in detail about conditions at the mine when it was operated.

Sado Magistrate’s Office

Established by Okubo Nagayasu in 1603, it was the center of Sado’s mine management and governance during the Edo period. Restored in 2000.

▲ Sado-no-kuni Kanahori-no-maki scroll, Owned by Aikawa Folk Museum

Photo by Hoichi Nishiyama

Katabe-Kanoura Quarry

This was the quarry for the materials for bed stones of mills. 14 quarrying areas and 105 wedge holes have been confirmed.

Photo by Hoichi Nishiyama

Fukiage Quarry

Quarrying was conducted here for a long time from the pre-modern times to the modern times in order to acquire the materials for runner stones of mills. A large number of wedge holes still remain on the rocks of the shore.

In and after Meiji era

In Meiji era, Aikawa Gold and Silver Mine and Tsurushi Silver Mine became “Sado Mine” and started to be operated by the new Meiji government in 1869, and then it was sold to Mitsubishi in 1896. During this period, both Western engineers invited by the government and Japanese engineers who had studied abroad arrived in and introduced advanced technology from the West such as the method to dig horizontal tunnels at regular intervals on a vertical shaft, and mechanization for transporting ores. With these technologies the amount of production of gold and silver was largely increased, and Sado Mine was modernized to be representative mine of the country.

Photo by Hoichi Nishiyama

Odate Vertical Shaft

This is the first Western style vertical shaft for precious metal mining in Japan, which was completed in 1877. It was used for lifting up and down ores, miners and materials, reaching 352m at deepest. This is also one of the structures symbolizing modernization of domestic mining industry.

Photo by Hoichi Nishiyama

Kitazawa Flotation Plant

This facility was completed in 1938, operating for dressing and smelting ores. The subsequent expansion enabled the facility to process 5 tons of ores a month, being the Asia’s largest mining plant.

Photo by Hoichi Nishiyama

Oma Port

This port, with its completion in 1892, was used for transporting ores and carrying in raw materials such as coal. Stone embankment, truss bridge, loader pier, and crane pedestal still remain.

Photo by Hoichi Nishiyama

Tojigawa Hydro Power Plant No.2

From the Meiji era onward, thermal power plants have been constructed to provide the mine with electric power. In order to reserve additional power, the hydro power plant was constructed on the Tojigawa River. The Plant No.2 was completed in 1919 and continued its operation until 1977.

Kyomachi-dori street, remaining vestiges of mining town