There's a god for that
Iwami Ginzan is comprised of the silver mine itself, its tunnels and shafts and adits, and the surface land above it, including the nearby town of Omori. All of this falls under UNESCO’s designation as a World Heritage Site, and because of this, outside vehicular traffic is prohibited, in order to preserve the integrity of its timeless character. Visitors can opt for a walking tour, which follows the centuries-old trail of the miners, or a cycling tour, which follows the single-track road that occupies the opposite bank of the narrow valley. I opt for the bicycle, pay the nominal rental fee, leave my backpack with the proprietress (who, besides renting bikes, is also the snack-stand cum gift-shop owner), and depart for the mines.
I am delighted to discover the best part of Iwami Ginzan, the part that the guide books have failed to highlight. Better than the ancient shafts of treasure, better than the solitude of a remote place, and better than the forest sunshine, is the freshness that comes from the stream and the trees and the deep soil and the wild grasses, and the holiness that emanates from the very stones of the mountain.
Japan is a land of mountains. But while geologists use tectonic theories to explain the origin of these mountains, the indigenous people developed theories in story form, and these stories engender a belief that certain mountains are the abode of kami. A well-known example of this is Mount Fuji. The Japanese believe that the mountain itself is the sacred body of the kami Konohana-no-sakuya-hime. This type of kami is also believed to reside in certain trees or rocks. I do not know the name of the kami that inhabits this place, but I feel its presence.