Takayama-sha Sericulture School

Takayama-sha Sericulture School
Photo Credit: Gunma Prefecture

As the birthplace of seion-iku, this place had long been used as a practical school for sericulture technology. When the Tomioka Silk Mill began a cocoon quality improvement initiative, Takayama-sha School cooperated in the development and dissemination of an improved species of silkworms.

To practice seion-iku, you keep the silkworm-rearing rooms relatively warm at around 21 to 24 degrees Celsius, regulate humidity, and have cocoons in 35 days. The cocoon production volume was somewhere between that of ondan-iku and seiryo-iku methods, but it was believed that with strict temperature and humidity management, seion-iku was the safest silkworm rearing method available at the time. In the Meiji Period (1868-1912), sericulture spread across the country because of the thriving raw silk export market. The seion-iku method made silkworm rearing readily available to farmers who had never been in this business before, and therefore, it spread all over Japan.

The Takayama-sha Sericulture School was built to practice the seion-iku method, and many of the school facilities remain intact to this day. The main house with sericulture rooms was built in 1891. The construction of the farmhouse with a raised roof for ventilation was derived from Yahei Tajima's teachings. The Takayama-sha Sericulture School is different from the Tajima Yahei Sericulture Farm in that there are features, conceived for the use of heating devices at the time of construction, to enable the precise management of temperature and ventilation throughout the structure. Temperature control features include ventilation openings in the floors, the ground floor hearths, and places for situating a brazier on the upper floor. For ventilation, it has large full-height windows, transoms, vent under the silkworm rearing shelves, and a ceiling on the upper floor that is latticed. The upper floor was partitioned into six rooms, enabling the individual adjustment of temperatures.

Aside from the main building, the foundations of lost buildings such as nagaya-mon gate, the bath house/kitchen, and the outside toilet remain. The nagaya-mon gate was built in the Edo Period (1603-1868). It was roofed with wooden boards but is now roofed with tiles. An exclusive sericulture building, mulberry-leaf storage area, and the site of the former mulberry field also remain.

Takayama-sha Sericulture School
Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites In English

Address: 237 Takenomoto, Takayama, Fujioka MAP
Contact: 0274-23-5997 (Cultural Property Protection Section, Fujioka City Board of Education)
Hours: 9:00-16:00(For group visits, please make a reservation in advance.)
Closed from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 every year

Sightseeing spots in the vicinity
http://gunma-dc.net/takayama-kinuisan

Other related sites
http://worldheritage.pref.gunma.jp/en/