What to Expect
Sado has been well known as one of the major gold and silver production sites in Japan. It has the history of 1000 years.
There are four major minig sites in Sado: Nishimikawa alluvial gold mine, Tsurushi silver mine, Niibo silver mine and Sado (Aikawa) gold and silver mine. Sado gold and silver mine was the biggest of all with 400 years of history.
Mining in Aikawa started in the late 16th century and was halted in 1989.
In this tour, we first visit Sado Gold and Silver Mine Museum, where we enter the Sodayu tunnel which is open to the public.
The Sodayu tunnel was dug manually by thousands of mine workers during the Edo period.
You can see the whole process of gold and silver production at that time.
Then we see some old buildings and a relic built from Meiji to Showa era. These buildings were used to crush, store and smelt ores.
Next, we visit the graveyard of Mushuku-nin(people without register) brought in from Edo and Osaka to work as drainage workers.
Then, we walk down the street called Kyomachi-dori, once bustled with mine workers, government officials and towns people.
Kyomachi-dori street linked Sado Magistrate Office to mining sites.
Aikawa town was developed and divided into communities with same occupation. Along the way, we see old buildings, workshops, local grocery store and cafes.
We walk past old bell tower, Sado Hanga-mura Museum(print museum) originally built as a district court and Sado Magistrate Office.
Finally, we visit Kitazawa area, developed from Meiji to Showa era with modern Western mining technologies to produce gold and silver effectively. Ruined factories, thermal power plant and a 50-meter thickener have remained.
Sado Gold and Silver Mine has practiced cutting-edge production methods of each era and you can see the authenticity here in Aikawa.
FYI, walking distance is about 3 kilometers.