Just a couple of hundred meters down the road from the *Imari Kawaminami Shipyard* is another haikyo – visible from both the street and the train tracks the place is nevertheless often overlooked. After we finished shooting the seaside part of the shipyard Yasu was heading back to the main building while Ben and I headed to the remains I saw a couple of times on Japanese blogs without even exactly knowing what to expect – the pictures I saw were labeled “向山炭鉱“ (Mukaiyama Tankou, tankou being the Japanese word for mine), but a mine so close to the sea? Could that be?
When Ben and I arrived on the other waterfront we saw three elderly Japanese people skimming through the part of the beach that was now accessible thanks to the low tide. Since Ben’s Japanese was way better than mine he talked to them and found out that they were looking for Asari (also known as Manila clam or Venerupis philippinarum), a popular ingredient in miso soup. Like the fisherman from the dam the clam searchers were quite chatty and told us a bit about the abandoned place we were visiting. As I assumed the concrete and rusty steel remains weren’t part of a mine, but part of the sea terminal of the mine – the mine itself was somewhere in the nearby mountains and demolished centuries ago. Speaking of mountains: I didn’t realize it until Ben told me what he heard from our new Japanese friends, but the surrounding hills near the beach weren’t natural. They were also remains of the sea terminal, in this case the parts of the deliveries from the mine that didn’t get onto the ships as there weren’t coal, but worthless rocks not even good enough to be used for construction. Like everywhere else in the world that stuff was piled to create spoil-tips (or botayama, ボタ山, in Japanese).
There is actually not a lot of general information I found about the Mukaiyama Mine. Coal extraction at the place started during the Meiji era under different names and different owners. Until 1909 23 miners mined about 750 tons of coal, in 1910 15 miners brought 298 tons to daylight. 1911 brought a new owner with headquarters in Matsuura and new deposits were found. In 1912 the mine was renamed once more to now known “Mukaiyama Mine” and 100 miners were employed to mine about 800 tons of coal a year. At the same time 15 houses were constructed for the miners – if you want to see pictures from that era please have a *look here*, but please be aware that the site is in Japanese; nevertheless I didn’t want to steal their photos to put them up here… In 1937 the mine was taken over by Kawaminami Industries Ltd. who increased production again in 1939 – probably to support their *soon to be demolished shipyard*. In 1946 the Mukaiyama Colliery Labor Union was formed, raising the daily wage from 35 to 50 Yen and prohibiting underground work of women and minors. (Minors, not miners!)
In 1951, when the *Kawaminami Shipyard* was struggling, a railroad connection to the sea was built. Although new coal deposits were developed in 1957 and 1960 the Mukaiyama Mine was shut down in 1963 – and with it the sea terminal. Okay, so much for the history lesson…
As I mentioned several times before: I was extremely lucky that the tide was low during my visit. On most pictures I saw on the internet the beach was covered with water, the remains of the sea terminal barely sticking out of the sea. Not during my visit. Thanks to that the remnants were almost completely visible, exposing their more decayed parts with vibrant colors.
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