Although silk has been a big deal in Asia since time immemorial, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the industry fully developed into what we know today. Tomioka Silk Mill was Japan’s very first modern silk factory, built as a collaboration between the Meiji Government and the French. Here, you can get a window into Japan’s push to modernize during the Meiji era.
Textiles were once Japan’s biggest industry before the consumer electronics brands took over. The factory is now a UNESCO Industrial Heritage Site, and it allows visitors to learn about the art of silk production, and the history of the industry. On the tour you’ll discover each part of the process, from silkworm eggs to opulent fabrics.
Although the factory is no longer active, it’s still maintained with care. There are a number of well-preserved buildings, including the reeling mill and warehouses where the cocoons were stored. If you’re at all interested in the history of Asia’s most famous fabric, then this Tomioka town is a great place to visit.