The Tomioka Silk Mill and related areas became the center of innovation in silk production and marked the beginning of Japan’s integration into the era of industrialization, creating new products. , becoming the world’s leading exporter of raw silk production, especially in the European and US markets.
English name: Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites
Location: Gunma Prefecture
Year of recognition: 2014
Acreage: 7.2 ha with a buffer zone of 414.6 ha
The Heritage Area consists of 4 sites
1. Tomioka Silk Factory
The factory has a U-shaped main layout, surrounding the courtyard.
The building on the east and west side is the cocoon warehouse (East Cocon warehouse and West Cocon warehouse). 2 buildings are made from local materials but with French construction frame structure (wooden frame, brick insert). 2 story high house. The first floor is for working women. The second floor is the storage of dried silk cocoons. Today the building is used as a Historical Museum of the factory.
The building in the south wing is the main production workshop of the factory (Silk – reeling plant) – the silk spinning workshop (from silkworm cocoons). The factory is 140m long, has a large span roof structure, no columns inside. This was an unprecedented construction solution in Japan at that time.
In the middle of the yard is a large chimney, a boiler house and a Cocoon drying facility, now only ruins, a water tank…
2. Tajima Yahei . Silkworm Farm
Heritage Tajima Yahei Silkworm Farm (Tajima Yahei Sericulture Farm) has an area of 0.4 hectares, located in Isesaki city, built in 1863.
This is the former residence and farm of Yahei Tajima, a silkworm farmer who developed a ventilation system to raise high quality and stable silkworm eggs, called “Seiryo-iku”.
This is the first Seiryo-iku house in Japan, 2 stories high. On the 2nd floor, there is a roof door for natural ventilation, similar to the model of an industrial house in Europe. In addition to being ventilated, silkworm eggs are also monitored to produce silkworms with the highest silk quality possible.
At that time, many silkworm growers visited the farm to learn and research on how to raise silkworms for eggs according to new technology.
The farm used to consist of two houses connected by a bridge on the second floor, but now there is only one house and the bridge.
3. Takayama-sha Vocational School
Heritage Takayama-sha Vocational School (Takayama-sha Sericulture School) has an area of 0.8 hectares, located in the city of Fujioka.
This is a place where people from all over Japan and neighboring countries can come to study and learn more about mulberry farming, silkworm rearing, and silkworm rearing techniques for raw silk.
Takayama Chogoro, a former samurai who entered the silk business after the end of the shogunate period, founded the school in 1884. During this period the Seion-iku-style mulberry growing technology was perfected.
Following the Seion-iku model, temperature and humidity are controlled to create ideal conditions for silkworm cocoons rearing using a two-story building with lots of windows and a roof for good ventilation. , as well as a fireplace. Hands-on lectures taught at the school have set new standards and spread modern mulberry growing technology in Japan.
The main building of the two-storey Takayama-sha Vocational School, built in 1891, is modeled after the work at Tajima Yahei Strawberry Farm.
4. Arafune cold storage
Arafune Cold Storage Heritage Site has an area of 0.5ha located in the mountainous area near Tomioka City, Gunma Prefecture.
The Arafune Cold Storage is located in the largest cold wind cave in the province, serving as a natural refrigerator for the silk industry in the early 1900s.
About one million trays of silkworm eggs can be stored here for silk producers throughout Japan.
Cool air in the warehouse is created by wind passing through rock crevices filled with snow that accumulates during winter. Even in the summer when the outside temperature reaches more than 20 degrees Celsius, the temperature in the cold storage is still only a few degrees above freezing.
In the cave there are 3 warehouses with brick walls, stone plastered with mud to support wooden silkworm egg trays. At present, only ruins remain.
Map of Tomioka Textile Factory and related locations
Video of Tomioka Textile Factory and other locations
UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites