In this article, we will introduce two World Heritage Sites in Kamaishi, one of the Sanriku districts in Iwate Prefecture. They are the Iron and Steel Museum, which is a comprehensive museum for learning the history of steelmaking, and the Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site, where you can tour the oldest ruins of a blast furnace in Japan.
About the Iron and Steel Museum
The Iron and Steel Museum was built in 1985 to remember "Oshima Takato", the father of modern steelmaking in Japan who was active in the late 19th century, and the people who had great achievements in the steelmaking business. After that, the "Hashino Iron Mine" which was also located in Kamaishi, was registered as a World Heritage Site. It was then renovated to an educational facility that comprehensively displays the culture and development of modern steel industry.
Highlights of the Iron and Steel Museum
The Iron and Steel Museum is roughly divided into two big parts. They are the "General theater" and "Exhibition corner". The ”General Theater” uses a 17-minute video presentation to explain the past iron mining and steel milling in Kamaishi centering on a full-scale model of the oldest existing western-style blast furnace, "Hashinokouroato", in Japan. In the "Exhibition Corner", you can find exhibition panels which explain the history of iron mining and steel milling in Kamaishi and exhibits of iron products such as models and toys.
The Iron and Steel Museum: Opening hours and access
Opening hours of the Iron and Steel Museum are from 9:00 to 17:00 (last admission at 16:00). It closes on Tuesdays. The admission fee is 500 yen for adults. As for the access, take a bus heading for "Kamihirata" at Kamaishi Station to go to the museum. It takes about 7 minutes to reach "Kannon Iriguchi". Get off and walk for about 3 minutes.
- Spot name: The Iron and Steel Museum
- Street address: 3-12-7 Odairacho, Kamaishi, Iwate 026-0002
- Access: About 7 minutes by bus departing from Kamaishi Station. Get off at "Kannon Iriguchi" and walk for about 3 minutes
About the Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site
The Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site is the oldest existing ruins of western-style blast furnace in Japan. It was built in 1858 and contributed greatly to the development of steelmaking industry during the Industrial Revolution in late 19th century. It had been operating until the blast furnace was closed in 1894. Currently designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan, it is also inscribed on the World Heritage List as one of the components of "Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron & Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining".
Highlights of the Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site
You can see historical relics at the mine such as the three blast furnaces, the water mills, the Gohibaraidokoro, the Nagaya and the Yamajinja Shrine. There is also an information center at the site where you can learn more about the history of the mine.
The Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site: Opening hours and access
You can visit the mine at any time. However, the information center is only open from 9:00 to 16:30. As for the access, there is a non-stop bus departing from Kamaishi Tourist Information Center in front of Kamaishi Station. Basically, it is necessary to make a reservation for the bus two days in advance of your expected trip. The journey takes about 50 minutes and the fare is 2,000 yen per round trip.
- Spot name: Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site
- Street address: Hashinocho, Kamaishi, Iwate
- Access: About 50 minutes by a non-stop shuttle bus departing from Kamaishi Station