Time Slip Back to the Edo period and exprience the Sado Gold Mine Picture Scroll!


Experience the “Horiko-Gokko”

The Sado Gold and Silver Mine Picture Scroll depicts gold production systems and the people who were involved in mining. In this program, you’ll experience the life and work of a gold mine ore carrier, just as it’s depicted in the scroll… And for lunch, enjoy the special “Gen-san Don!”

To start off, we’ll take a look at the picture scroll and learn more about it how miners carried gold and silver ores out of the mine. Then, get ready for work! First, don the gear worn by miners back in the day, including waraji (traditional rice straw sandals) and a kamasu (traditional cloth bag). You’ll find the bag to be a bit heavy – in fact, its exactly the weight of gold that was once carried by the head carpenter, Gen-san. With your ores in tow, challenge the obstacle course simulating a mining tunnel! After completing the course, get ready for a photo shoot! Kimono and chonmage costumes will be provided.

“Horiko,” ?


Horiko is a general term for miners, and there were both adult crews and children.


Adult crews


children crews

Adult miners were responsible for digging out ores, and child workers carried them out of the mine. This division may be partly due to the fact that it was easier to prevent ores from being stolen by child workers.

The characters “穿子” (Horiko) and “鑚通穿子” (Tagane kayo horiko) can be seen on the picture scroll. Tagane, a chisel, was the tool used for mining ore. Chipping away at rock caused the tagane to dull and shorten. It was the task of tagane kayo horiko to courier the tagane to a blacksmith outside of the mine for repairs.

Later, in order to improve efficiency, horiko duties were subdivided into five categories (which differed over the course of the history of the mine), and they came to be called godan horiko (five step horiko) (荷揚穿子: Haulers, 鑚通穿子: Chisel Couriers, 手伝穿子: Pit Assistants, 丁場穿子: Construction Assistants, and 鞴差穿子: Bellow Workers).

Reservation form for Horiko Gokko

Horiko’s belongings

A)  Kamasu (Bag)
Horiko workers carried a straw bag called a kamasu. Three different types of straw kamasu bags were used during the Edo period – two types of horizontal bags carried by horiko and one type of vertical bag used for sorting. 


Horizontal Kamasu Bag by Horiko


Vertical Kamasu Bag for Bidding and Selling

Bidding scene



Horiko bag diagram

The size of bag used by Horiko was fixed, and the bags were checked at the Yotsudomebansho (guardhouse) before entering the mines. Kamasu were compared to a plate called a kasei-ita to see that they followed size protocol.

Inspection of Horiko’s belongings



B) Shisokutate (Paper Candle Holder)
Shisokutate was a type of torch used in the mines made by thinly slicing Sado’s atebi tree, soaking it in oil, twisting it into a rope, and affixing it to the end of a stick. A shisokutate-making scene is also depicted in the picture scroll.

Paper Candle Holder

C) Shisoku Donsu
Shisoku Donsu, paper candles, were also made by thinly slicing the atebi tree and soaking it in oil.
* In addition, Horiko also carried a rope called a ninawa that secured the kamasu during transportation.

Experience Details

★ On the day of the event, we will provide a QR code for a multilingual website for the program, so we recommend you bring your own device such as a smartphone with internet connection. Multilingual resources and support material for those with disabilities are available, such as subtitled images. We’ll be incorporating the experience with this online content.

  • Ages : 8 years old and up
  • Length of time : Approximately 2 hours, including lunch
  • Start time : Programs are held twice a day.
    1) 11:00~ (Program → Lunch)
    2) 12:00~ (Lunch → Program)
  • Reservations : 3 days in advance, by 16:00
    Email: Reservation form for Horiko Gokko
  • Minimum Participants : Two people
  • Maximum Capacity : 20 People
  • Fee
    Adults:3,000 yen(With Waraji traditional rice straw sandals)
    Children:2,000 yen(Without Waraji)
  • Fee includes : Experience fee, lunch, waraji (adults only), certificate, kaiyun ore, consumption tax.
  • Meeting place : Meotoiwa Kanko (1267-5 Takase, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture)
  • Other
    ・Only adults will wear waraji (straw sandals). The used waraji will be given away as souvenirs.
    ・Reproduction of a tunnel from those days, and are made to be narrow and difficult to walk through. Please wear comfortable clothes (pants, etc.).
    ・Some days may be fully booked due to group tours.
    Please check the calendar for available dates.


This rice bowl is inspired Only available for this program’s participants,

The specialty “Gen-san Don.” Only available for this program’s participants, this rice bowl is inspired by the tunnel carpenter depicted on the picture scroll, Genshiro!

“Gen-san Don.”
A) Sado wild yellowtail cutlet served over rice
    The cutlets represent the gold mine open-cut.
B) Takuan (pickled daikon radish)
     while the takuan represents koban coins.
C) Squid Sashimi
D) Sliced Nori
E) Gold Leaf
    The white squid represents white quartz, while the black nori and gold leaf represent gold veins.

F) Nagamo (Seaweed)
   *to be poured over the squid sashimiG) Sado Wakame H) Soy sauce  I) Wasabi

Cosplay shoot


Only for this plan, you can take a cosplay photo of Horiko!

A. kimono
B. Waraji
C. Kamasu (Bag)
D. topknot (vinyl )
E. Shishokutate (Paper Candle Holder)
F. Shishoku Donsu(Thinly shaved wood soaked in oil)

3 old kimonos, 1 pair of woven camas with rope and 1 pair of wig with a 100-yen hairpiece.
We will help you press the button to take a picture with your own smartphone or other device.


Lucky ore souvenirs

If you complete all the missions, you will receive a Horiko Certificate and a lucky ore souvenir.

Horiko Gokko acceptance calendar

Possible Unavailable Unable to select time

Reservation and Experience Flow

Horiko Gokko Plogram Flow
  • 3 days ago
    Reservation deadline is 5:00 p.m. 3 days prior to the experience date.

    Email is recommended for reservations.
    Reservation form for Horiko Gokko

  • On the day Step1
    What to wear for the experience
    We will recreate the tunnels of the time and walk through difficult and narrow areas.
    It is made to be difficult to walk on purpose. Please come in clothes that are easy to move in, such as trousers.
  • On the day Step2
    What to bring
    Smartphones are convenient to have.
    It is an indispensable item for hearing-impaired people and foreign visitors to Japan who are not proficient in Japanese.

    You can confirm in writing what you will experience. Our staff who will guide you will also use it as a cheat sheet.

  • On the day Step3
    Reception is possible from 60 minutes before the reservation time.
    Please allow plenty of time for your visit. Please inform the store staff of your visit when you arrive.
  • On the day Step4
    Please pay the experience fee at the reception desk. Various coupons are also available.

    (Please contact the staff for details)
    You can also use QR code payment (PayPay only) and various credit cards for payment.

  • On the day Step5
    We will inform you of the QR code of the experience-only website that has undergone multilingual processing so that you can understand and check the contents of the experience in text and the password for WiFi connection.
    You will be asked to download a dedicated page for the experience on your smartphone or other device.
    (Download is not required)
  • On the day Step6
    Go to the experience area
    We will guide you to the venue when all the participants are ready.
    *Participants starting at 12:00 will have the “Gensan-don” lunch first.
  • On the day Step7
    To start off, we’ll take a look at the picture scroll and learn more about it how miners carried gold and silver ores out of the mine.
  • On the day Step8
    Challenge the athletics
    Wearing waraji (straw sandals) and carrying a kamasu(cloth bag), which weighs the same as a gold ore, visitors will challenge themselves in an athletic activity that simulates a mine shaft.
  • On the day Step9
    Cosplay shoot
    We will provide kimono and chonmage costumes and help you press the button to take pictures.
  • On the day Step10
    Lucky ore souvenirs
    If you complete all the missions, you will receive a Horiko Certificate and a lucky ore souvenir.
  • On the day Step11
    Taste the specialty “Gen-san Don.”
    Only available for this program’s participants, this rice bowl is inspired by the tunnel carpenter depicted on the picture scroll, Genshiro

Reservation form for Horiko Gokko

Torigoe tunnel

Click the image to open the PDF file
“Mabu” is a word from Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, and refers to the tunnels of the mine. It is said that there was a custom to call it after the discoverer or the owner of the mine.
The base (background) of the experience program is inspired by the “Sukekithi-shiki” of Torigoe-maho(Torigoe tunnel), which was earned by “Kanto Yaemon” in 1721 (Kyoho 6).
Torigoe tunnel is located on the west side of the road up the Osado Skyline from Aikawa, and “Doyu no Wareto” can be seen below.
The number of distances and differences in elevation of each tunnel from the Sado Magistrate’s Office are noted in the literature, and the Torigoe Tunnel has a distance of 3.432 km and a difference in elevation of approximately 222 m.
The distance on the Osado Skyline from the Magistrate’s Office is 3.4 km and the difference in elevation is 223 m on the Google Map.
With Garmin, the distance between Sado Magistrate’s Office and Torigoe is 3.34 km, with a height difference of 236 m.
A. Yotsudome Bansho
四ツ留番所Managed by the magistrate’s office, this facility monitors the sale of ore at the entrance of the tunnels.
Horiko were employed by a private staffing agency called Horiko-uke.
You are a Horiko now. Present your ID card to enter the mine.
At the guardhouse, your personal belongings will be checked.
It is important to check the “kamasu” bag to prevent fraud.
If fraud is found, you will be penalized!
B. Tateba Koya
Private mining contractor facility that manages ore mining, ore-sorting operations, and the control station at the exit of the mine
C. Kaji Koya
Managed by the magistrate’s office, this is the facility where tips of tools used in mining are re-tooled and sharpened after they become dull.
D. Araiba
Ore auction house conducted by private mining contractors
E. Tunnel Entrance

Owned by Akita University Library (excerpt processed)

Horiko users’ manual

Work procedures for Horiko
(1) Inspection at mine entry
Horiko can enter the “Yotsudome-banjo” after reception at the “Horiko-uke” (a private recruitment agency).
It was the responsibility of the child-horiko to carry out the ore, perhaps because children were easier to manage.
For administrative reasons, the time for the child-horiko to enter the mine was set at 8:00 in the morning.
Five belongings of Horiko
  1. A wooden tag (an ID card as we know it now) with your name on it. I will hand this over to Horiko-uke.
  2. Kamasu(bag) of the bag to put the ore
  3. packing cord
  4. Shishokutate (Paper Candle Holder)
  5. Shishoku Donsu(paper candles)
(2) belongings inspection 
There is an inspection of belongings by the “Horiko-tsukai” who is an official at the Yotsudome Bansho.In particular, the Kamasu bags that carry ore were inspected with “Kase-ita”.
If you pass the inspection, you will be allowed to enter the mine with the Horiko-tsukai(officials).
*Privilege of Samurai in Edo period, if Horiko disrespect(Kamasu injustice) Horiko-tsukai(officials) permitted the person cut down by own sword is permitted.
About seven child holikos were managed in the ratio of one official holiko-tsukai in charge.
(3) Mining site   “Gejou-ba” in Sukekichi-shiki(Mining site)
Sukekichi-shiki of the Torigoe Tunnel is a mining site where Kanto Yaemon made money in 1721 (Kyoho 6).
A gejou-ba is a base camp-like location for a mining site.It is a place where the maste daiku(head daiku) sorts the ore dug out by the daiku according to the daiku name, and is also a daiku resting place.
Head daiku Genshiro is putting the ore into the bucket.Horiko puts the ore into the Kamasu under the direction of the head daiku, and carries it to (6)”Tateba-koya”
(4) corridor
A straight line in the tunnel is called a corridor.There is also a check for Horiko-tsukai here.
(5) Tunnel entrances and exits
There is a name and Kamasu weight check at the “Yokohiki-ba” at the exit of the tunnel.
(6) Tateba-koya
Goal. Unload the ore here and return to ③ to repeat the ore transport.

About Our Daiku


Daiku is the term for artisans who worked in the mine. Kanahori daiku were artisans who dug for ores. Yamadome daiku constructed scaffolding inside the tunnels to prevent collapse. Other daiku shown in the picture scroll are Fuki daiku, Haifuki daiku, Bun Daiku and Nobegane Daiku.

Designation as daiku had important connotations in securing skilled craftsmen for the rapidly developing mining industry. Non-mining related wood-workers were called banjou. (Later, the word daiku was used to describe metal-workers.)


The Story of My First Horiko Job

※ There are English subtitles.


It’s the year 1721. This is the story of a fisherman who lived in Aikawa area 300 years ago. One day, the man stopped in town for a drink, where he met the head carpenter of the gold mine Torigoe tunnel, Genshiro. The fisherman hit it off with Gen-san, who suggested that he go to the gold and silver mine to make some extra cash. You see, Gen-san had struck gold, he found a great vein of ore and he wanted someone he trusted to transport the ore out of the mine. The fisherman, encouraged by Gen-san, tries his hand at being an ore carrier…


Reservation form for Horiko Gokko


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