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Around Omuta City - Japan''s Modern Industrial Heritage Sites of Meiji Period

Play time
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Along with the Japanese Government, Fukuoka Prefecture has been supporting the Modern Industrial Heritage Sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi as a 2015 candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage List. Today, we will introduce you to Omuta City's Miike Coal Mine and its related facilities - one of the nominated sites of the industrial revolution. 

Opening

Openingの画像

With such a large scaffold and surrounding clay walls, it has an atmosphere of its own. 
Those brick walls have been untouched for about 100 years.
 
The Modern Industrial Heritage Sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi has been… 
submitted for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List…
by the Japanese Government.
 
Today, we will introduce you to Omuta City,
with Miike Coal Mine and its related facilities… including the sites of industrial revolution here in Japan.

Sites of Industrial Revolution

Sites of Industrial Revolutionの画像

Japan had developed dramatically from the end of Edo period to Meiji period. 
Miike Coal Mine producing coal, and government-operated Yahata Iron Mill manufacturing iron… 
They contributed greatly to the progress of Japan's modernization.
 
Fukuoka Prefecture is actively involved in many activities to further promote the… 
admittance of the Modern Industrial Heritage Sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi to the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

Miike Coal Mine, Miyahara Pit

Miike Coal Mine, Miyahara Pitの画像

Today, Mr. Sakai of Omuta City will guide us here at the Miike Port and its related facilities. 
 
Hello.
Hello.
Thank you for joining us today.
First, he showed us the… 
Miyahara Pit. 
 
Overseeing the dig process was this facility with… the tall scaffold and winding control room. 
The winding was managed in here?
Please come in.
Thank you.
Wow, I can still smell the oil.
Look at this. It's huge!
You wouldn't realize how thick these wires are unless you get up-close.
This is the device for pulling up the cages with coal in it…
called the hoisting drum. 
 
The wires connected to the cage winds around the hoisting drum. 
The right side is connected to the top, and the left is connected to the bottom.
The right side releases them, while the left side winds them back.
It's like how a water well works.
It utilizes the gravity force of one another, so not much power is needed to operate it.
Very efficient system, to say the least.
 
Yes, indeed. It was originally steam-operated 100 years ago, but… 
it doesn't produce enough power, so this system was implemented.

Miike Coal Mine, Miyahara Pit

Miike Coal Mine, Miyahara Pitの画像

The wires from earlier hoisted… 
this cage right here.
And, it is this called the “cage"… 
Yes, the English word "cage" as in "birdcage".
Two wires being released from the control room
and gets connected to this cage through the scaffolding tower.
You saw earlier; the left hoisting drum was completely wound up, 
that's why the cage is right here on the ground. 
People actually got in this cage to be descended? 
That’s right.
Well, there was a safety door attached to it… 
but, yes, people actually got in it and held onto those bars while being hoisted. 
This remains as it was then?
Yes. 
That’s amazing.
It is told that the they worked 140 meters underground… and it took only about a minute to get down there. 
But at that speed, their feet came off the ground and floated in the air. 
There are rails on site, of course, and flat carts to transport coal… 
so they would load those wagons here and transport them to respective sites.

Omuta City

Omuta Cityの画像

Miike Coal Mine produced the highest coal outputs in all of Japan, and Omuta flourished as a mining town.
Today, the city retains the traces of its former self with its nostalgic atmosphere.

Miike Prison Ruins

Miike Prison Ruinsの画像

We are now in a residential area of Omuta. 
Look at these high walls!
These brick walls… 
built in 1883 are
the remains of the Former Miike Prison. 
Now this is the wall of Fukuoka Prefectural Miike Technical High School. 
There is now a high school on the other side of this? 
Yes.
It's now a part of this high school.
The prisoners detained at the Miike Prison were
often miners at the Miyahara Pit from earlier.
 

Other sites of Industrial Revolution

Other sites of Industrial Revolutionの画像

Also for Japan's industrial revolution, we find the remains of service railroads for transporting coal from the Manda and Miyahara Pit, and connecting the sites directly to the Miike Port.
The local geography features previous railways, brick tunnels and overpasses, and old iron bridges as well.

Miike Port

Miike Portの画像

We are now at the port. 
Could you tell us about this location?
This port is the Miike Port, 
put in place about 100 years ago.
Another historic location… 
This was a specialized port for coal shipment.
The Ariake Sea has a pretty sever tidal shift.
The bottom of larger vessels can get stuck
if driven in during the low tide.
So the swing gates were installed… 
to keep the water level consistent throughout.
It'd close during low tides, to keep it consistent.
Coal would get delivered here from Manda and Miyahara Pit from earlier,
via railways, and gets loaded onto large fleets.
Having this port allowed for a very efficient exporting process. 
Making this the exit and the final destination of everything we saw today. 
Right. This port is the final stage of the whole process.
 

Former Mitsui Minato Club

Former Mitsui Minato Club の画像

Finally, we've come to the Former Mitsui Minato Club. 
Hello.
Welcome.
This place is beautiful.
It was built 105 years ago. 
That’s amazing. 
Could you tell us about this building? 
This was built around the same time as the Miike Port
to accommodate the sailors and
the high-profile guests in and out of Japan.
So the wealthy frequented this place… 
I’m going to try their popular curry!
It's so delicious!
The chunks of meat just melted away…  

Ending

Endingの画像

The historical sites of Omuta City which helped advance Japan’s modernization continue to remind us of our past.
We hope to support the continual effort for the selection of the Modern Industrial Heritage Sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Map

Videos on the surrounding area

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Omuta Summer Festival―Daijayama

Omuta Ecosanc Center[Play time 5:25]

Let's go using the Kyushu Shinkansen! Sightseeing in Omuta part2

Kitahara Confectionery[Play time 5:27]

Let's go using the Kyushu Shinkansen! Sighseeting in Omuta