The Hitachi Mine, the Start of Industrial Hitachi City

  Firstly, we would like to introduce to you the "Nippon Mining Museum" . The museum was built in 1985 to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Hitachi Mine. On the first floor of the museum, we can trace the history of the Hitachi Mine and the Nippon Mining Holdings Group, including the various experiments and accomplishments of the founder, Mr. Fusanosuke Kuhara, and his successor, Mr. Gisuke Ayukawa. The life of the mining town is also illustrated through photographs, video material, and artefacts actually used at the time. On the second floor, information relating to the "Giant Stack" and the present work of Nippon Mining is related. In the basement of the museum, an underground view of the mine has been recreated. In the museum, there is also an exhibition hall, where electric locomotives, and a variety of machines and devices used in mining and refining are displayed. Also, two mine shafts that served as the main arteries of the mine have been preserved and stand on both sides of the hall. These exhibits remind us of the difficulties involved in mining and the hardship undergone by the miners. With the centennial of mining in Hitachi as its impetus, the museum displays have been renewed recently. It's a great place to learn about mining. About 10,000 people visit the museum every year.
  When Mr. Kuhara bought Akasawa Mine in December 1905 and opened Hitachi Mine, it was the starting point of the growth of Hitachi as an industrial city. It also marked the birth of the modern mining industry in Ibaraki. Kuhara's mine was one of the four big mines in Japan at that time. This mine produced over 440 thousand tons of smelt copper from 30 million tons of ore over 76 years. It contributed to the modernization and economic development of Japan right up to its closure in 1981. The mine was taken over by Nippon Mining Holdings Inc. As well as mining and refining, this company is experimenting in new areas too. These include the oil industry, the manufacturing of electronic materials (copper foil, liquid crystal materials), bio-mining (producing copper from bacteria samples), the recycling of non-ferrous metals, the disposal of industrial waste, and the processing of metals and fuel cells, etc. Through these endeavors, the company is taking measures on behalf of the environment.
  Now we little realise that there was a serious pollution problem in the vicinity of the mine, so may be we should reflect on it at this juncture. Just after the opening of the mine, Kuhara's company and those that lived near the mine were inflicted with a serious pollution problem. Poisonous sulfuric gas was proving extremely harmful to local inhabitants and the environment. It proved an extremely difficult task to rectify this problem. They tried several different methods to release the polluted gas. At last, they constructed the "Giant Stack" in order to dilute the polluted gas to the minimum level possible. They tried several other tactics as well such as creating a weather observation network, limiting the extent of refining, growing rice that was smoke resistant, and planting 10 million tree saplings around the mine. By 1947, the company succeeded in completely reducing sulfuric gas emissions resulting in the end of the pollution problem.
Now, pine trees and Ohshima-zakura (cherry trees) planted by the company cover the mountainsides beautifully, leaving no trace of the previous pollution.
  At this point, it is also worth mentioning that Namihei Odaira, who later started Hitachi, Ltd., the now world famous electrical and engineering company, in 1910, was then the first chief of the construction section of Kuhara's company and was active in constructing the mine's first electric power station. He also was responsible for repairing Hitachi Mine's machinery.
  On February 19, 1993, the 155 meter high "Giant Stack" just collapsed of its own accord. It was later rebuilt to a height of 54 meters. This new stack symbolizes both the end of pollution in and the further progress of Hitachi City. We strongly recommend you to visit it at least once!

Scenery in 1960s

Address: 3585 Miyata-cho, Hitachi, 317-0055
( Take the Number 60 Hitachi Dentetsu bus bound for Higashi-Godo from JR Hitachi
Station and get off at "Nikko Kinenkan-mae". It takes about 25 minutes)
Tel: 0294-21-8411
Admission: Free
Opening hours: 9am~4pm (last admission 3.30pm)
Closed: Mondays, National Holidays, the Year End and New Year Holidays.
Notes: * The various names and other details presented in this article are based on the information in the "Nippon Mining Museum" leaflet as available at the Nippon Mining Museum.
* For further information about the "Giant Stack" and the pollution problem in the area, please read "ある町の高い煙突”(A Town with a Giant Stack) by Jiro Nitta.

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