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There’s Silver in Them Hills

There’s Silver in Them Hills

- San'in Travel Diary Vol.5 -

Hi, I’m Tom Miyagawa Coulton and I’m a photographer and writer currently living on a small island in Hiroshima. I’m on another journey of discovery in the San’in area, this time to the World Heritage Site of Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, the beautiful Tonomachi Avenue in Tsuwano and the Adachi Museum of Art with its famous Japanese gardens.

By Tom Miyagawa Coulton

Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center & Townscape of Omori Town

Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center
Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center
Townscape of Omori Town
Townscape of Omori Town
Townscape of Omori Town
Townscape of Omori Town

Unfortunately, the Ryugenjimabu was closed due to heavy snowfall. So instead of the tunnels, we explored the delightful historic town of Omori a short distance from the museum.
This town flourished with the silver mines and the old streets and period buildings have been carefully preserved. I stopped for lunch at the Gungendo, a beautifully restored traditional Japanese property that now houses boutique shops and a cafe. The same group renovated the Takyo Abeke a few doors down the road. This impressive house has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind Japanese inn. The attention to detail is breathtaking, with a careful balance between traditional Japanese interiors and contemporary fittings. Each aspect of the building was made with carefully thought, whether it’s the innovative reuse of antique Japanese glass in the windows or the traditional wood-fired hearth where the guests enjoy their evening meals. I’ll definitely be back.

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Adachi Museum of Art

Adachi Museum of Art
Adachi Museum of Art
Adachi Museum of Art
Adachi Museum of Art
Adachi Museum of Art

The person behind the creation of the gardens and the vast Yokoyama Taikan collection is the museum’s founder, Adachi Zenko. You can view the innovative windows he made in his family home (now part of the museum) including one scroll-like window in the traditional Japanese tokonoma alcove display area. According to legend, when a friend of Adachi’s mentioned the potential view of the gardens behind the wall of the tokonoma, he immediately began chiseling the wall away to install a window.
The season, the weather, the time of day, all affect the gardens and how you appreciate the art, meaning no two visits to the Adachi Museum of Art will ever be the same. I visited in mid-winter with a thick layer of snow covering the gardens. It was beautiful, but only made me want to come again to experience the gardens in spring, summer and autumn.

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Tonomachi Avenue & Taikodani Inari Shrine

Taikodani Inari Shrine
Taikodani Inari Shrine
Taikodani Inari Shrine
Tonomachi Avenue
Tonomachi Avenue
Tonomachi Avenue

The Tsuwano Catholic Church catches your eye when you walk down the street. In Japan, Christianity was outlawed for over 200 years until 1871. Towards the end, the newly-formed Meiji government sent more than 150 ‘hidden Christians’ to Tsuwano from Nagasaki. Here, the authorities tried to force them to change their faith, but many resisted. After the government abolished the law prohibiting Christianity, many Christians returned to their homes in Nagasaki, while some chose to remain in Tsuwano.
In the snowy weather, Tonomachi’s famous carp huddled together, motionless in the streams to keep warm. We too started to feel the chill and took refuge in Sara no Ki – a cafe, restaurant, and shop all under one roof. Looking out onto their beautiful enclosed Japanese garden with a hot coffee and a bean cake (baked on the premises), I felt relaxed and recharged in no time.

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The three destinations I visited on this trip were diverse, but I would go back to each in an instant. In Iwami and Tsuwano, it was interesting to see how the geography of both locations had a huge influence on the development the local culture. The Adachi Art Museum is somewhere you could visit again and again and come away with a different experience every time.
(Visited in January 2018)
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This page was created in February 26, 2018.

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