Starting in 1872, the Tomioka Silk Mill and its related sites was the first factory in Japan that was ran by the government. The goal was to make the country wealthy and be able to catch up with the other top countries.
The factory mass produced silk in order to export it worldwide and bring in foreign currency. Built in a way that was unique to the country at the time, the Tomioka Silk Mill is a place like no other in the country.
This is when Japan really started focusing on increasing their exports in order to increase their wealth, making a name for themselves in the process.
The architecture of the Tomioka Silk Mill was very unique to Japan at the time. They were built by using a method that laid bricks onto a timber frame. The bricks that were used were made by tile makers and their kilns, as bricks did not otherwise exist In Japan back then.
As they were being laid, the bricks were alternated with the short side and the long side. This gave the building a nice look and helped make it more stable.
Tomioka Silk Mill
The Tomioka Silk Mill is known for being one of the first places to start treating women better in the workplace. On property, there was a clinic and dormitory just for young women, along with a night school. Women who worked here did not work more than the standard 8 hours a day, with no work on Sundays, and received benefits.
Paul Brunat's House
The house where the original supervisor, Paul Brunat, still stands on the property today. He was French, who was hired because France had been successfully producing silk around that time, and Japan had a great relationship with France.
His house has the appearance of a colonial house and was later used for the young women’s school that they went to at night.
4 sites in this World Heritage
- Tomioka Silk Mill
- Tajima Yahei Sericulture Farm
- Takayama-sha Sericulture School
- Arafune Cold Storage
Tomioka Silk Mill
Tajima Yahei Sericulture Farm
Takayama-sha Sericulture School
Arafune Cold Storage
- UNESCO Official Site
- Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites
- Tomioka Silk Mill | SILKOOL Tomioka Tomioka City sightseeing homepage
- Discover Japan at “Tomioka Silk Mill”, a World Heritage Site | JAPAN Monthly Web Magazine
- Tomioka Travel: Tomioka Silk Mill
- Tomioka Silk Mill, Gunma, Japan: World Heritage Tentative List