Minetopia Besshi


2018.02.20

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

Minetopia Besshi is an unusual and unique place to visit in Ehime, especially if you’re travelling with children. It’s a theme park built on the remains of one of the three biggest old copper mining towns, which was once responsible for the modernization and industrialization of Japan.

  • Copper mining began in Besshi in 1691 producing around 700,000 tons of copper until its closure in 1973. Minetopia, which is located in the once lively mining town is spread over two locations; the Hadeba area and the Tohnaru area. The theme park is in the Hadeba area at the base of the mountain, where visitors can learn more about the mine and how it was developed over time until it was decommissioned in 1973. You can enter actual mines and see dioramas that show how the Edo period used manual labor to extract copper. There’s also a children’s park, restaurants and a popular onsen to enjoy after a long day of sightseeing. The second area is higher on the mountain in the Tohnaru area and is known as the “Machu Picchu of the Orient”.

    Minetopia Besshi

    Minetopia Besshi

    The long standing ruins present here invoke a resemblance to the ancient sky city of the Incas, but that’s where the similarity ends. The structure, said to be built around 1905 sits 750 metres high in the mountains and was the mining quarter from 1916 to 1930, until the quarters were moved to the Hadeba area. This town was almost single handedly responsible for the progress of Japan into the modern era and had a population of 5,000 inhabitants with corporate housing, schools and theatres lining the streets. Now, the crumbling brick structures are all that are left of a once vibrant and booming mining depot.

    Minetopia Besshi

    Minetopia Besshi

    A sharp slope with a narrow canal was used as a ropeway to haul the daily necessities, newspapers and mail to the town nestled high in the mist enveloped slopes from the foot of the mountain, where Minetopia is now located. It was eventually converted into a staircase consisting of more than 200 steps. But tourists don’t have to worry about scaling them as a sightseeing bus departs from the theme park to take visitors up to the ruins. Once at the terraced slopes of the town, visitors can wander around the time-worn structures and experience something that could have come straight from a Ghibli movie.

    Minetopia Besshi

    Minetopia Besshi

    The brick buildings are still remarkably well preserved and invoke the sense of dynamic activity that once was the lifeblood of this place. One of the largest buildings of the heritage site is the docking area where the ropeway terminated. It was also used as temporary storage for the ore and other goods that came up the mountain.

    Minetopia Besshi

    Minetopia Besshi

    There is still a labyrinth of old tunnels that used to house different facilities essential for the work in the town. The main transportation tunnel was built in 1902 and had a train installed three years later. Other tunnels were used for dynamite storage or housed the electric substation that powered the town but now have been converted into gallery spaces. There’s even a copper workshop where guests can buy or create their own souvenirs to take with them.

    Minetopia Besshi

    Minetopia Besshi

    Minetopia Besshi is an excellent way to explore the past of Japan that one doesn’t often see and is an ideal place to visit if you want to spend the day among the mountains.

    Minetopia Besshi
    rating

    4.0

    21 Reviews
    place
    Ehime Niihama Tatsukawacho 707-3
    phone
    0897431801
    opening-hour
    [Tenku no Yu] 10:00-22:00 (L…
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