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[Hidden Wonders of Japan] Mystical Quarry Ruins in Fukui Prefecture

Surrounded by nature, visiting the former quarry in Awara city feels like stumbling upon the remnants of an ancient civilization.



Chisel and wedge marks can still be seen inside the quarry. Awara City, Fukui Prefecture. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

I make my way through a narrow tunnel, parting the vegetation with my hands. Suddenly, I find myself in what resembles an ancient stone temple. The moss-covered rock surface and the echoes of dripping water create a strange sensation as if I've been transported to another world. In reality, I am at the Miyadani Quarry Site in Awara, Fukui Prefecture. The former stone mine, near the famous hot spring resort Awara Onsen, has been gaining popularity as a tourist attraction.

Entering the quarry through a narrow tunnel. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawagichi)

The Stones of Miyadani

Stone quarrying began in Japan around 1887 when it started adopting Western building techniques. However, the practice ceased in the late 1950s with the rise of cement-making technology.

The stones of Miyadani were easy to process and fire-resistant. They were not only made into foundations for houses but were also used to make tools for daily life, such as braziers and stoves.

In some places, the quarry is more than 15 meters (49 ft) in height. Awara City, Fukui Prefecture. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

Excavations have left six beautiful spaces in the quarry, which are connected by tunnels. Some of these spaces have an opening at the top, allowing sunlight to filter through the trees in the summer. The interplay of light creates the perfect atmosphere for shooting movies, commercials, and prenuptial photos.

Looking to the Future

Since guided tours began in 2020, the number of visitors has been on the rise. In fact, they are expected to reach 1,000 this fiscal year ending in March 2024. The extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train to Tsuruga Station in Hyogo Prefecture and Awaraonsen Station is expected to boost tourism even further.

AFLARE, a complex next to Awaraonsen Station in Awara City, Fukui Prefecture. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

Toshio Sakai is the chairman of the NPO Hosorogi Souseikai, which operates tours to the former quarry. He says, "Visitors come here looking for places off the beaten track. But we need to strike a balance between conservation and expansion to prevent overtourism."

As the quarry is on private land, visitors must join a guided tour. No tours are available during the winter season from December to February of the following year.

As I emerge from the other end of the tunnel, the bright rays of the setting sun make me squint. The mysterious silence that surrounded me earlier has been replaced by the songs of insects and birds.

A kilometer-long avenue lined with American sweetgum trees in Awara City, Fukui Prefecture, on October 26. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Ryosuke Kawaguchi

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