UNESCO adds Tomioka Silk Mill in Gunma to World Heritage List


UNESCO on Saturday added the Tomioka Silk Mill in Gunma Prefecture to its World Heritage list. UNESCO made the decision at its annual meeting in Doha.

UNESCO said the Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites is an historic sericulture and silk mill complex established in 1872. Built by the Japanese government with machinery imported from France, it consists of four sites that attest to the different stages in the production of raw silk: production of cocoons in an experimental farm; a cold storage facility for silkworm eggs; reeling of cocoons and spinning of raw silk in a mill; and a school for the dissemination of sericulture knowledge.

UNESCO said the mill illustrates Japan’s desire to rapidly adopt the best mass production techniques, and became a decisive element in the renewal of sericulture and the Japanese silk industry in the last quarter of the 19th century. It marked Japan’s entry into the modern, industrialized era, and propelled it to become the world’s leading exporter of raw silk, notably to France and Italy.

The Tomioka Silk Mill is the 14th Japanese cultural heritage site to make UNESCO's World Heritage list. Mount Fuji was awarded cultural status last year.

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The Tomioka Silk Mill can be reached by riding the Joshin Dentetsu Line train from JR East Takasaki Station to Joshutomioka Station and walking about 600 meters to the site. I'm glad that site now has UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, which means we'll see a lot more foreign tourists visiting there (and likely visiting nearby Takasaki/Maebashi, too).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This will be the closest one to central Tokyo. China gets some...Burma gets its first. I'm hoping some of the wonderful buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright will be recognised.

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Hi Patricia, yes the signs are in English, too. Well worth a visit!

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As a WORLD Heritage site, I wonder if any or all of the signs are also in English. Matt-san, what did you find?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sounds like it was well deserved. Haven't been there, but was once at a very small place in Kyoto that explained this process and I think still even made small amounts of silk. Can't remember exactly where as I was taken there by friends on my first visit to Japan, but it was interesting.

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It is a very interesting place to visit. About 30 minutes from me in the car. Loads to learn about the era and how foreign influences helped Japan grow as a nation. When I visited the mill the Japanese emperor was also there, though he had rather more bodyguards than I did ;)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Glad to see Japan preserving this part of its genuine cultural heritage and tradition. Sounds like an interesting place to visit.

There is also a silk museum here in Yokohama which is quite good. Its not a world heritage site but the Emperor came to visit last year.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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