Besides the Ikuno Silver Mine, another mining-related attrition in Asago City is the Mikobata Concentrator Ruins (神子畑選鉱場跡), located in the mountains west of the Ikuno Silver Mine. Because the concentrator on the site operated 24/7 between 1919 to 1987, the site that is reminiscent of a fortress was nicknamed “Nightless Castle”!
A Brief History of Mikobarta Ore Processing Site
The Mikobata Concentrator was once boasted as East Asia’s number one production of metals such as tin and copper.
Up until around the 15th century, gold was mined at Mikobata Mine. But the operation was moved to Ikuno Silver Mine because it was easier to work there. In 1878, a silver vein was discovered at Mikobata Mine that saw operations become active again with about 3,000 workers.
Due to over-mining, the silver vein slowly died out at the beginning of the 20th century, and the entire project ended in 1917.
The site was subsequently turned into a mineral processing plant in 1919, with products sent to smelters across the country. In 1987, together with the Akenobe Mine (明延鉱山), the Mikobata Concentrator met its end.
The majority of the structure was demolished in 2004. This exposed the concrete foundation of the concentrator. The 22-floor building with a width of 110 meters is now a pilgrimage site of ruins.
If you ever set foot into this concentrator, you will still be able to see large machinery like the flotation cell that was used a century ago.
Mikobata Cast Iron Bridge (神子畑鋳鉄橋)
Driving from Ikuno Silver Mine or the closest station – JR Nii Station (新井駅), you will pass through this cast-iron bridge. The bridge is an important part of the “ore road (鉱石の道)” that enabled the transportation of ore mined at Mikobata Mine (神子畑鉱山) to the refinery at Ikuno.
The bridge that was built in 1887 is the oldest cast-iron bridge in Japan and has been designated as a National Important Cultural Property.
In summer, you can head down to the river to chill out.
Ichi-en Train (一円電車)
This smaller-than-usual train is on one side of the Mikobata Ore Processing Site Ruins. The commuter train transported workers between Akenobe Mine and Mikobata from 1945 to 1985.
The formal name of the train is Meishindensha (明神電車), but because it only cost one yen to board the train, people all called it “Ichi-en Densha”, which means one yen train in Japanese (≧▽≦).
How awesome would it be if it only cost one yen to regular board trains? (´▽｀*)
Mouchet’s House (ムーセ旧居)
In 1871, another French was employed by Ikuno Silver Mine. This time, it was the geologist Emil Theophile Mouchet. His house was later relocated to where it is now as Mikobata Ore Processing Site’s office.
Today, it is a museum filled with models and photographs of the Mikobata Ore Processing Site when it was in operation.
The opening hours of Mouchet’s House are from 10 am to 5 pm daily except Wednesdays.
From the 29th of December to the 3rd of January, entry is free.
Ore Road Mikobata Communication Center – Shinsen (鉱石の道 神子畑交流館「神選」)
What was opened in the middle of the pandemic in 2020 was the Mikobata Communication Center. It is basically a museum featuring diorama exhibitions and videos of Akenobe Mine and the Mikobata Ore Processing Site. The diorama illustrates how the One Yen Train connects the two mining sites 6.4 km apart.
Also, there is a portable shrine in the center that was used for festivals at the mining site. Similar to Ikuno Silver Mine’s gateposts, the Chrysanthemum Crest is on the shrine. And yes, Mikobata Mine was once an imperial property.
For those who enjoy collecting original goods, head over to the Communication Center for souvenirs related to Mikobata Mine. You can check out what’s on sale HERE in advance.
Cherry Blossoms and Other Events at Mikobata Ore Processing Site
In spring, you can adore the cherry blossoms growing around the plant. It is another reason to visit the Mikobata Concentrator Ruins. You are guaranteed that it won’t be crowded (^_-)-☆.
Cherry Blossom Festival is held here as well. In 2023, it was held on the 16th of April from 10 am to 3 pm with live performances and food stalls. Nighttime light-up events are held from the 7th of April.
If the weather is clear at night, you will see thousands of stars! To add to this awesomeness, from the 3rd to the 9th of December in 2022, the site will be illuminated by lanterns from 5 pm to 9 pm (*´ω｀).
How to Get to Mikobata Ore Processing Site
To get to the Mikobata Ore Processing Site from JR Nii Station (新井駅), take the Asago City Community Bus – Ako Bus (アコバス) bound for Mikobata (神子畑), and get off at Mikobata (神子畑).
- For Monday and Friday’s timetable, please refer to page 10 of THIS PDF.
- For Tuesday and Thursday’s timetable, please refer to page 11.
- The service isn’t operating on Wednesdays, weekends, and public holidays.
Discover Other Attractions in Asago City
Ikuno Silver Mine isn’t the only attraction in Asago City worth your time. The city is also the home of one of the Three Castles Floating in the Sky in Japan!
To find out more awesome attractions close to Ikuno Silver Mine, please refer to our article on Asago City (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.