Iwami Ginzan in Shimane Prefecture is a historic silver mining town that looks as if it has just been plucked out of an Akira Kurosawa film set. Start at the ruins of the Iwami Silver Mine and walk through the mining shafts, old furnace and a few temples. Next, make your way over to the Omori Town where the magistrate’s office was located in the Edo era and there is a lot to see, such as museums and historical residences.
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine was discovered in the early 16th century and was mined for nearly 400 years. When I visited the Sado Gold Mine in Niigata Prefecture, I felt a little bit sad because we saw how people were treated without humanity at that time. On the contrary, at the Iwami Silver Mine, the mine tunnels were wider and the residential area was well organized with high living standards and developed culture.
ZUIENT Iwami Ginzan (Cafe CAGLIARI) in Omori Town
ZUIENT Iwami Ginzan used to be called Cafe CAGLIARI which offered coffee at the owner’s grandma’s old house. Now, it has been remodeled into a more modern cafe. Each drink is made by hand with great care to focus on perfection as opposed to speed.
A lovely little crockery store of Moriyama Masao art works is less than 12 square meters. Moriyama Masao had trained with Kawai Kanjiro, a ceramic artist and one of the leaders of the folk art movement in Japan. Moriyama crockery has timeless wabi-sabi elegant simplicity.
Stay: Nogawaya Inn in Yunotsu
Yunotsu is located near Okidomari Port, from where the silver was shipped out from Iwami Ginzan. It was worthwhile to see how people took advantage of the nature to build a port at Okidomari. The neighborhood of Yunotsu is brimming with old Japanese style inns, cafes and Japanese style bars. I looked for a traditional Japanese-style inn with tatami-mat and kotatsu, a table with an electric heater underneath covered with a heavy blanket. Nogawaya Inn was a perfect match and they brought dinner and breakfast to our room as with a Japanese-style inn.
The Best Day Trip from Iwami Ginzan: Incredible Tottori Sand Dunes
Although it takes over a 3-hour drive from Iwami Ginzan, the Tottori Sand Dunes, give the most unique, tranquil view as the largest dunes in Japan. They are located just outside the Tottori city and span approximately 16 kilometers of coast along the Sea of Japan.
In winter, it snows a lot by the Sea of Japan. When we visited, we had heavy snow with strong wind, so it was so hard to climb the stairs to the sand dunes from parking area. One small boy and his grandmother couldn’t manage to climb due to the strong wind. There are various fun activities like riding camels, paragliding or sand boarding during warmer seasons. After taking photos and playing in the snow at the Tottori Sand Dunes, we ran into the Sand Museum located a short walk away from the dunes, displaying large sand sculptures by artists from around the world.