Translated by EndoYasuko
Let's go to Tomioka-silk Mill in Gunma!
Written by SuzumuraYusei
Do you know a world heritage site in Japan? I will introduce this time Tomioka silk mill in Gunma prefecture.
On 21st of June 2014, this hot spot was just placed on the world heritage list. It must be interesting to reviewing about Japanese history of modern industrialization.
What is Tomioka silk mill?
In 1872 (5th in Meiji era), government established Tomioka silk reeling factory as a first model mechanical factory for modernization of Japan.
The end of Edo-era, Japanese government changed their national isolation policy and started to trade with foreign countries. To getting foreign currency and making fair trade, government had to rapid modernize progress for industry, science and technology.
To obtain for that, they focused on silk industry which was main exports at that time. They established this model factory with westernized reeling machine for trying to make an improvement in quality, mass-production, and training a technical expert.
This facility which closed in 1987 is only one remained nearly perfect shape among these government enterprise by Meiji-government.
Whole city of Tomioka got excited!
When I arrived to Tomioka city, I could see the sign boards which says "Congratulations! It was placed on the World Heritage List!" everywhere.
It started from High way exit, but not only this, the train station, public facility, road and shops. This whole city got so excited to be chosen.
This path lead to Tomioka silk mill. Although, the weather was not good, there were many visitors. The entrance fee is 500 yen.
Learning history at Touken warehouse
First, I entered to Touken warehouse which has brick wall. I feel that is the Meiji-era (1868-1912) appearance!
They had a variety of exhibitions. There are captions about raw silk and history of this factory. The caption about how to make raw silk was very detailed and easy to understand.
There was a TV screen which describe about this factory.
This booth was the most popular one. The volunteer staff demonstrated how to reel silk off cocoons. If you candidate, you can have an experience of it.
The reeling hall
This is reeling hall. It was the most crowded.
The reeling hall was workers reeled silk off cocoons. It was used to use until 1987, then they were conserved well. I work at a manufacture and I was taught that the most important fact is looking directly at actual place, the original parts and equipment. So it was interesting for me that I see the starting point of industry in Japan. I want to see when the machine is working!!
The volunteer staff are fantastic!
The volunteer stuff who is in orange vest explain about display here and there for free. You can go around without their help, but I recommend to listen them if you have time. Every staff explain well, you can get more information additional from display.
I was impressed that the Japanese technology level by visiting Tomioka silk reeling factory. As you know, there are a World Cultural Heritage Sites and a World Natural Heritage Sites. This facility is a World Cultural Heritage Site. Compared with other World Cultural Heritage Sites such as the Taj Mahal or the Church of the Sagrada Familia, this might be plain. However, Tomioka silk Mill has a history which leaded Japan from the period of national isolation to the world powers with modernized techonology. And even today, the spirit is existing in Japanese brand makers.
Tomioka silk reeling factory
Address：〒370-2316 Tomioka 1-1, Tomioka city, Gunma prefecture
Closed:Dec 29〜Dec 31
HP: English, Chinese, French, Korean
Closest station：JR Jo-syu Tomioka station access：15 minutes walking from JR Jo-syu Tomioka station 、From Jousinetsu high way Tomioka exit about 10 minutes (3 km)、10minutes walking（500m) from car parking
Entrance fee：500 yen
HP：Tomioka Silk Mill