Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tomioka Silk Mill 富岡製糸工場 recommended as "Unesco World Heritage"

Tomioka Silk Mill 富岡製糸工場 
Gunma prefecture 群馬県 Japan

Discovery travel of the Tomioka Silk Mill 富岡製糸工場, old city of Tomioka 富岡市, in Gunma prefecture 群馬県, Japan. It is located about 120 km northwest of Tokyo. it's Japan's oldest modern model silk reeling factory. Was established in 1872 by the government to introduce modern machine silk reeling from France and spread its technology in Japan.

In 1870, Paul Brunat, who worked in a French trading company in Yokohama, researched suitable locations for a silk mill in the Kanto region and selected the site in Tomioka City from among the candidates.

The construction began in 1871 and was completed in July the next year. Three months later the factory started operation. In the beginning, there were 150 silk reeling machines (300 basins), and about 400 female workers, many French teachers and workers came into Japan to teach the work to local Japanese women and operated the machines in the mill.

The lifestyle of the workers has been recorded in the diary of one, Wada Ei. In the silk reeling factory, 'you will be amazed by the huge area without supporting pillars for the silk reeling mill that was operated by 300 workers.'

I liked the detail about manpower: At first it was difficult to find workers, local people were afraid of what they called French "vampires" drinking blood... They enjoyed drinking a red liquid called... red wine

Late April 2014, Paris based Unesco advisory panel recommended giving "Unesco World Heritage" status to the Tomioka Silk Mill historic factory building as they are symbolizing Japan’s industrialization from the 19th century. Endorsement could be formalized at a meeting of the World Heritage Committee June 15-25, set in Qatar. Likely to be offered.

Already today tourists are visiting this attractive old city of Gunma prefecture. So, to go there, catch a Shinkansen to Takasaki, then ride the cute 2 cars train Joshin Dentetsu line to Joshu-Tomioka. It's a beautiful report / journey in the history of Japan industrialisation on the way to Karuizawa and near by Isobe Onsen.