Bad Manners at Fantastic Mine Ruins, "Laputa of Shiga"Series of Trespassing Incidents Leads to Fence Installation
After a roughly 30-minute drive from the Kinomoto Interchange on the Hokuriku Expressway in Nagahama City and through the mountains, a concrete structure that looks like an ancient ruin suddenly appears. The Tsuchikura Mine, where many miners used to come and go, now stands quietly, covered with grass and trees.
The mine began operations in 1910 for copper mining. At its peak, approximately 400 households, or roughly 1,500 people including workers and their families lived in the area. Until the mine was closed in 1965 due to the import of foreign ore and other factors, the village was full of life with movie theaters, bars, and public bathhouses.
After the facilities were demolished due to the closure of the mine, portions of the building foundations remained. Since attracting attention on social media, an increasing number of motorcycle tourists with license plates from Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, or the Chubu areas, as well as young cosplayers, have been visiting the ruins. Possibly boosted by the recent craze for ruins, there are days when more than 100 people visit.
“I never thought it would become so popular. When we were little, no one came here except local people,” said Isao Kitagawa, a guide of the local nature and mine sites. A housewife from Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture was pleased, saying, “I also went to Battleship Island and Mikobata Senkoujyo. The charm of ruins lies in their naturally falling into decay.”
However, there have also been manner violations by some visitors. There have been numerous cases of visitors entering the mine to take dramatic photos. Five years ago, a male trespasser fell in, which led to the dispatch of an ambulance.
Nearly 60 years have passed since the closure of the mine and the local community is concerned about its collapse due to aging. The Tokyo-based resource-related company that owns the mine and a citizens’ group installed ropes and signs prohibiting entry about two years ago. Nevertheless, photo posts on social media that seem to have been taken inside the mine continue to appear.
After discussions, the owner company and the local community decided to set up a roughly 1.6-meter-high, 60-meter-wide fence in front of the mine site using the prefectural government's forest conservation funds and other resources. Part of the fence has already been installed and the remainder will be completed by the next fiscal year.
Even after the fence is installed, visitors will still be able to appreciate the mine site from outside of the fence as before. Kitagawa welcomes the installation, saying, “As tourists come all the way here, I’d like them to enjoy the mine safely. This doesn’t change our desire to have many people visit it.”
However, it is expected that some visitors may be disappointed to see the fence appear in their photos or be unhappy because they will no longer be able to view the inside of the mine up close. Kitagawa said, “The fence is only a preventive measure to stop intruders. It does not change the appearance significantly. I hope that tourists are interested not only in taking photos, but also in the history of the mine and local community.”(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)