Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture has a gold mine. They started digging in 17th Century and continued until 1989. The production of the gold in Sado was the largest in the world during 17th Century. According to Wikipedia, the gold mine in Sado produced as much as 400 kg of the gold and 40 t of the silver. Three centuries later, today, the gold mine is a popular sightseeing spot in Sado.
Gold Mine in Sado
Today’s gold mine in Sado is a sightseeing spot but it still has gold. They don’t dig any more only because the price of gold and the labour costs don’t much now. This means that when gold becomes much more expensive, there is a chance that they start the operation once again.
The old gold mountain or “Kinzan” in Japanese is a learning centre today. You can learn the history of the gold mine. Sado became a lively town and it seemed that workers’ wage was relatively high. Tokugawa clan, the family of Shogun directly controlled the gold production in Sado without leaving it to other feudal lords. This is because the gold mine was a precious source of the wealth.
Sado Commissioner’s Office
In order to directly control Sado Gold Mine, the Shogunate set up Sado Commissioner’s Office. The architecture was restored in 2000 and the visitors can see the offices of old Edo Era of 17th Century. The office functioned as an administrative headquarters to govern the area. At the same time, Commissioner’s Office also has a kind of a factory to refine gold. Today, they show you how people in 17th Century refined the gold after they dug from the gold mine.
Kitazawa Flotation Plant
The area near the Gold Mine has many industrial facilities. One of them is Kitazawa Flotation Plant which is a factory to extract metal materials. Visit Sado website explains what the flotation plant is.
The flotation method had originally been used for copper beneficiation, but at Kitazawa Plant, the techniques were applied to silver and gold extraction, and successfully utilised for the first time in the world.
I visited there in the evening when they lit up the plant with colourful illumination. That made the site very fantastic.
For More Information on Industrial Heritage in Sado
Address: 1305 Shimo-Aikawa, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture
Opening Hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm (8:30 am – 5 pm between November and March). Open everyday.
Admission: ¥900 for the visit of one mine tunnel (there are two tunnels) for adults and ¥450 for elementary and juniour high school kids.
¥1,400 for the visit of both two tunnels for adults and ¥700 for elementary and junior high school kids. There are guided tours which require booking.
Access: There are direct bus services from Ryotsu Port. 60 min drive from Ryotsu Port and 80 min drive from Ogi Port.
<Kitazawa Flotation Plant>
Address: 3-2 Aikawa Kitazawamachi, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture
Opening Hours: This is a place where you look at the former plant from outside. So it is open throughout the day and free of charge!