It was in early August. But, there were not many visitors - maybe owing to bad weather.

Toi - Gold mine, spa and beach

Toi is now a spa resort. However, it was originally a settlement developed around a gold mine. It is said that gold mining already started in the 1370s. However, it is more certain that the gold mining started under the rule of the Hojo clan in the 16th century. A vassal of the Hojo was reported to start gold mining in 1577.

The Hojo clan was defeated and eradicated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) in 1590 and the Izu region was transferred to Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). Ieyasu actively forwarded the exploitation of gold in Toi. The gold mining in Toi had its peak around 1610 under the management of gold mine magistrate Okubo Choan (1545-1613) using mercury-gold amalgam smelting introduced from Europe by missionaries. However, gold mining soon reached its limit under the then available technology and the Toi gold mine was closed in 1625.

The entrance of the gallery. The slightly browly colored part is the vein of gold.

The niche at the end of the gallery

The structure of the gallery
(From the pamphlet of the gallery)
One special case of the early gold mine galleries was excavated and we can see the interior of a 400 years' old mining facility. The gallery is dug along the vein of gold. The total length is about 60 m, because that was at the time the limit of mining work due to the lack of fresh air, though there is a vertical ventilation opening at about 40m from the entrance. What is unique to this gallery is the niche at its end. Where miners could not go further, they stopped mining, carved an altar and enshrined the god of mountain.

Later in 1917 the Toi gold mine was revived using modern technology and the mine was the second most productive gold mine in Japan after Sado. After having produced about 40 tons of gold, the Toi gold mine was closed in 1965 as a result of the exhaustion of commercially exploitable deposit.

Now 350m of the once 100km long galleries is open for tourists and the gold mining during the Edo Period (1603-1867) is displayed using figures and reproduced equipment. In the nearby museum a 250kg heavy gold bar is displayed and can be touched. The gold bar is now worth 10 million $ and registered in the Guinness Book as the world's largest gold bar.

Shrine reproduced in the visitors' gallery. Its "torii" is coverd with gold lieves.

Work at the working face

Coffee served in the attached tea house is scatterd with gold dust.

The largest gold bar in the world

The nearby villate Kotoi (small Toi) is more provincial than Toi.
The first hot spring was discovered at the beginning of the Edo period from a gold gallery dug near the Anrakuji Temple.

The first hot spring discovered in Toi was in a gold mine gallery.
Maybe because of the gold mine, the settlement of Toi has many good quality spa hotels with tradition. Gyokushoen is one of the hotels in traditional style. As it still keeps good old atmosphere of traditional hotels, Gyokushoen was recently used for taking a TV drama describing a female owner of a spa hotel.

Toi is also known as a good sea bathing place. Toi has the longest beach in West-Izu with beautiful sun-set and its quiet sea is suitable for bathing and swimming. What surprised me was the good planning of public space. Such facilities as park, sea side road, public bath tab using small ships and foot bathing facility are systematically placed and kept clean and tidy. I mention this, because this is quite unusual in Japanese traditional resorts. The beach of Toi reminded me of a private beach near Porec, Croatia.

The entrance of Hotel Gyokushoen