August 5th, 2019
We rode from Izumo to Iwami Ginzan, Silver Mine.
7:50 AM Near the “Guest House Izumo” where we stayed, I found the statue of “Izumo no Okuni (1582-1613) “(出雲阿国）who founded Kabuki.
Old Taisha Station
First, we stopped at old JR Taisha station,旧大社駅 because yesterday a man, who we met in front of the restaurant in which we ate Shimane ice cream, highly recommended it.
The station was opened in 1912 and closed in 1990. The present building was built in 1924. It is famous for the masterpiece of Japanese style station building. We enjoyed it’s beautiful and classic architecture and traditional platform with a steam locomotive.
We cross hills and enjoyed pedaling along the coast with the view of blue sea and clear sky.
After riding an hour, we stopped at “Kirara Taki” （キララ多岐）and bought drinks and took a short break.
Along the coast, we found and stopped at a historical site, which has rebuilt Japanese and western canons. There were many watch houses in 1800’s to watch for, and guard against, foreign ships with cannons. I’ve never know Matsue domain set up the watch houses along the shore of the Sea of Japan. (At that period, Japan was annoyed that a lot of western ships visited Japan, but Shogun ordered all loads of domains to drive away the ships.)
From Ota-shi station (大田市駅）, we started climbing up a moderately steep slope to Iwami Ginzan (Shiver mine).
Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center
Before visiting the historical area, we stopped at Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center to learn about the history and the technology.
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine was the largest silver mine in Japan and active from the 16th century to the 20th century. At the peak, it produced 38 tons of silver every year, approximately a third of world’s production. It was used to make silver coins in Japan, but the currencies were exported to China, Portugal and the Netherlands. Its high quality silver was known as “Soma Silver” and the name appeared on European maps in 1600’s.
Lunch at a cafe in Omori area
We moved to Omori area 大森地区 to visit the remains of silver mine tunnels and the traditional streets of the management base. It was only 5 minutes ride to the area but private cars are not allowed to drive into the area in order to to preserve the site. Visitors should park their own cars on the center and rent a bicycle/walk/get on a shuttle bus to go there.
The summer vegetable pasta was delicious.
We enquired about a restaurant from a guide standing in front of the visitor center and he told us there are only two restaurants near here, and we went to have lunch at “Cafe 住留(Jour?)”. It was a traditional Japanese building but the interior was renovated neatly.
Rygenji Mabu, the mine tunnel
After lunch, we went up the steep slope to visit Ryugenji Mabu, the one of two mine tunnels open to the public. In the silver mine, there were over 600 tunnels and the Ryugenji tunnel was bored in the 17th century and active until 1943.
We walked through the 273 meters of the 600 meters total length.
The tunnel were narrow, cool, humid and dark. I found lots of remains of chiseled work on the walls and imagined how the miners worked hard in those days.
We saw many small sub tunnels in which the miners excavated veins of silver.
Left: Sahimeyama Shrine 佐毘売山神社, the guardian god of the silver mine, was founded in the middle of 16th century. It has steep stairways.
Right: Rental bike is the best way to visit the site. I found several signboard of “Slow down on the down hill, Ota police office”.
Then we returned Omori area and enjoyed pedaling on the street. Old buildings still remains and it was designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic buildings.
House of the Kumagai Family
In Omori area, the largest merchant residence constructed in 1801 still remains. There are about 30 rooms and five stone warehouses. The family managed administrative works of the mine. It also served as a guest house for merchants and officials. The refined interior tells how the family was prosperous at that time.
Riding to Yunotsu Onsen
We went down the mountain for Yunotsu Onsen in which we stayed. After we started riding on Route 9, we felt uncomfortable because of heavy traffic. Then I found alternative routes and started riding, but finally we entered an unpaved footpath. We gave up and returned to R9.
Yunotsu Onsen, the hot spring
We arrived at Yunotsu Onsen 温泉津温泉, which is a part of Iwami Ginzan Heritage Site. It has 1,300 years history when a monk found raccoon dog soak in hot water to heal his injury. Yunotsu town was flourished as the entrance to Iwami Silver mine.
Yunotsu is famous for good quality Onsen, hot spring water. There are two public bath houses and we went to Yakushi-yu 薬師湯 bath house because the woman manager of Meguruya, in which we stayed at the night said that the water of Yakushi-yu is less hotter than moto-yu 元湯 and it has showers.
However the water was very hot! I managed to soak in, but my son could not enter into the bathtub.
BBQ dinner in the patio
There are a dozen inns in Yunotsu and they serve dinner and breakfast. Meguruya is a kind of a hostel for backpackers and didn’t serve any meal and we tried to search any restaurant but the only restaurant in Yunotsu was already fully booked.
The town was quiet and being out of date. We thought they doesn’t have any commercial spirit. as well as Onsen, Meguruya, the inn too.
Then we went to a supermarket and buy fish and meat for BBQ. At night, we broiled them over charcoal fire in the patio of the inn.
Distance: 75.9 km
Elevation: + 723 / – 692 m