The Story ofMichinoku Gold

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—It All Began with a Hint of Gold—


—It All Began with a Hint of Gold—

It was in Mutsu Province during the Nara period (710–794 CE) that gold was produced in Japan for the first time. Traditionally referred to as “Michinoku,” meaning “The Deep North,” this region includes present day Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures. The region is unique within Japan in that it possesses veins of gold first formed about 100 million to 450 million years ago. It had been common knowledge that there was no gold to be found in Japan, until the discovery of a single flake of gold here in Michinoku overturned that idea and created a sudden appetite for the precious metal.

Gold mining in Michinoku began with the collection of gold dust, with operations eventually spreading to rivers and coasts throughout the region, turning the area into one of the leading gold producers in Asia. Once the technology to extract gold from ore was introduced, the feudal rulers of the time actively pursued the development of gold mines. As technology evolved to enable industrial-scale mines, the production of gold in Michinoku reached its peak. By the late twentieth century, gold mines in the region had largely ceased operation. This brought the remarkable story of Michinoku Gold to an end, the conclusion of over 1,250 years of history rooted in an even longer geological heritage.

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