Valuable heritage sites

Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites witnessed technological interchange between Japan and the world, and innovations that realized the mass production of high quality raw silk. Historically, silk had long been considered a rare fiber, enjoyed by privileged classes. However, with the significant contribution of Japanese mass production technology, silk became available to the general public, enriching the lives and culture of people worldwide.

Historical background

Silk production started in China around B.C.3,000. Factory based mass production started in Europe in the 19th century, when Japan had just opened its port and begun to introduce western technology. Tomioka Silk Mill, established in 1872, led the modernization of Japan’s silk industry. Furthermore Japan’s own innovations in sericulture were responsible for the successful mass production of cocoons needed to produce raw silk. As a result, Japan became the top exporter of raw silk in the beginning of 20th century, changing silk from a luxury fiber to one that was more affordable. After World War II, the automatic silk reeling machine was invented in Japan. This machine has since been exported to many countries, further contributing to the popularization of silk.

“Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites” has inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO in June 2014. Let us introduce four components of the propety.

Tomioka Silk Mill
The first full-scale raw silk factory introducing machine-reeling technology from France.

Tajima Yahei Sericulture Farm
Prototype of modern sericultural farmhouses utilizing a ventilation system on its tiled roof.

Takayama-sha Sericulture School
Birthplace of seion-iku, which became standard for this modern Japanese sericultural technology.

Arafune Cold Storage
The largest scale cold storage facility for silkworm eggs in Japan, making use of natural cold air flow.


■Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites
 Booklet(English) : (6.9MB)