Once controlled by the samurai, Ryugenji was the main silver mine entrance but even the largest passage wasn’t very big and having cut my head on a low beam the night before (!) I crept through quite slowly. It seemed unbelievable that people could fit down some the much smaller openings that we passed along the way. As often the case in stories of mining, it was incredible to learn about the difficult conditions for those that worked underground. 3 shifts of miners would only make 30cm of progress into the mountain in 24 hours and the removal of rock, water and the circulation of air demanded a great number of men and boys to work in those extremely cramped and dangerous spaces.
What was perhaps more interesting was the way that they learned to extract the silver from the rock and to separate it from the iron so long ago. It was totally amazing to think that silver was more valuable than gold in those days and that they had developed processes that we still use in modern times.