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Ashio Copper Mine

Ashio Copper MineAshio Copper Mine is located about 20 km southwest of central Nikko city and about 10 km south of Lake Chuzenji.
It is in the upstream valley of Watarase River, and the river flows through Kiryu city on Gunma Prefecture located about 30 km southwest of Ashio.

This mine was found in 1610, and until the middle of 19th century, it had produced copper in large quantities.
The copper had been used to build Nikko Toshogu shrine and Edo Castle, or to make coins.

The mine had declined temporarily, but promising mineral veins were found in 1888, then this mine became active situation again.
In the early 20th century, this was the largenst mine in Japan, so the population was increased to the second largest number after Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture.

But from then, pollution by this mine began to appear.
Mineral poison gas had killed trees, then the mountains around this mine became bald.
Mudslides had often occured, and muds had flown down the stream, then floods had been caused.

However, the government and the prefecture had been unable to pinpoint the exact cause.
These questions were left unanswered, but the mine had declined in changes of the times.
At last, this mine was closed in 1973.

Today, this mine has been designated as a national historic site.
On the mountains, forests are covering.
We can tour the driftway by tram, and visit a few museums about this mine.

How to get to here

From Nikko city

  • By route bus to Souai-Byoin, about 53 minutes from Nikko station.
  • By car, about 23 km from central Nikko. About 40 minutes.

From Kiryu city

  • By Shinkansen, get off at Oyama. (About 42-49 minutes from Tokyo)
    Change to JR Ryomo Line, and get off Kiryu. (About 55-60 minutes)
    Change to Watarase-keikoku Railway, and get off Tsuudou station. (About 1 hour and 30 minutes)
  • By limited express "Ryomo" of Tobu Railway, get off at Aioi. (About 1 hour 42 minutes from Asakusa)
    Change to Watarase-keikoku Railway, and get off Tsuudou station. (About 1 hour and 20 minutes)

Around ashio Copper Mine Tram leading to a driftway
Miner in the 17th century Miners in the early 20th century
Refining in the 17th century Ore samples of Ashio Copper Mine
Coins in Edo Period Monument of coins in the 17th century
All photoes by Railstation.net

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Cedar Avenue of Nikko
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Nikko Edo-mura
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Ashio Copper mine
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