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Matsuo Mine

It was a chilly morning at 5 in the morning when we drove towards the Matsuo Mine (松尾鉱山). We left before the day awakens to make sure we see the sunrise. We passed through the “not yet ruined” destruction site of the Matsuo Mine quietly in the morning mist, heading towards our even quieter destination. It took us some time to drive around in circles trying to figure out the best approach to the mine. And when we finally got off the car, it actually started to rain.

The strong winter wind was howling through the eleven abandoned concrete apartment blocks where there are no windows left. The casually arranged blocks were the dormitory for the workers; there are so many of them, looking like giants standing in the middle of these deep mountains. We trespassed into the first empty corridor, the floor is cracked, and plants are climbing in from everywhere. Walking through the complex took us almost 100 years ago, we were really walking through history.

More than 4,000 workers worked in the sulfur mine and the little town of Matsuo could accommodate 15,000 people. The school was also relatively big for this time, in comparison with all the wooden tiny shacks I got used to visit. Matsuo used to be the largest sulfur mine in East Asia.

Don’t miss the whole story about this trip: The Haunting Silence of Tōhoku Mines!


  • 1914 – 1969
  • Nippon No Haikyo #25