大森銀山【Omori Ginzan】

I visited the Omori Silver Mine (Omori Ginzan) near Oda, and had a very good time. I met an old friend, and a nice lady who had read one of these articles. She asked if I was the writer of these essays, and my wife said that I was. The lady’s sense of humor was good, and she laughed a lot while we were talking. She was a happy person.


In the distant past, and while Omori Ginzan was in operation, more than 200,000 people lived in that area. That sounds like a lot, and when we think that the city of Matsue has only 140,000, plus a few, 200,000 is a lot! We saw the Rakan Temple. It had some really excellent carvings of “baku” and “shishi” at the entrance. There were many other magnificent carvings around the temple, too. We also saw the Kigami Shrine, which was most interesting. In it, we were able to hear a dragon crying!


The Omori Ginzan also has the name of the Omori Copper Mine. However, everyone thinks of it as the Silver Mine, and in fact, more silver was taken out of the mine than anything else. Much gold was also mined there. About 1/4 of the produce from the mine was gold. The mine has a total area of 415 acres and was run by a series of judges. I heard that there were 60 of them over a period of 255 years, beginning around 1600 A.D. In 1640, and again in 1334, mining operations were stopped.


A commercial mining company started again later, but the mine was permanently closed in 1923. It is a charming town, and the story and life of the miners were fascinating to study. The technological developments they made were extremely interesting. On the dark side, we saw a killing ground for slaves who didn’t do their work well, or had outlived their usefulness. My wife always feels a dark mood when we pass that site.


The owners of the mine, however, felt some emotion for the people who died there. Therefore they erected the Rakan Temple, for the repose of the souls with no home to go to. Near there is a place called, 500 Rakan. At this point, you can find about 500 carved figures that are supposed to represent Buddhas. They can be found in caves beside the road.


It is said that if you look long enough, and hard enough, you will find the face of someone you know among them. I tried, but my nose is pretty big, and so are those of most of my American friends, so I will have to go and try again. One of them looked a little like my brother. I wrote and told him about it, but he said that it was not possible for anyone to have his nose! . I did see a few faces of my Japanese friends, though!


Whatever the experience you have there, the whole area is historically significant. If you miss it, you will be missing something that is truly important to the knowledge you would like to gain from a visit to the Sanin Area.


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