History and Tradition

The mining industry was flourishing in Shirakami-Sanchi. The Oppu mine (currently Sunakose, Nishimeya-mura) was the largest in the industry. It is said that the mine was discovered in 807 (Daido 2) and also that copper started to be produced a long time before that (it is also said that copper produced here was used for the casting of the Great Buddha in Nara).
Around 1645 (Shoho 2), gold was dug up in Kawaharasawa (currently Kawaharadai, Nishimeya-mura) and silver was dug up in Onoezawa (currently Fukaura-machi), Nishihama.
In the modern era, towns and villages where Shirakami-Sanchi is located were renamed the current Ajigasawa-machi, Fukaura-machi, Iwasaki-mura and Nishimeya-mura after going through the enforcement of the municipal system in 1889 (Meiji 22) and the merger of towns and villages in 1955 (Showa 30).
In 1960 (Showa 35), the Meya Dam was completed in Oaza Fujikawa, Oaza Imoritai, Nishimeya-mura. In addition, the Kosei Forest Road (currently the Prefectural Road Iwasaki-Nishimeya-Hirosaki Route), which connects Nishimeya-mura and Iwasaki-mura through the forests of beech trees in Shirakami-Sanchi, opened in 1972 (Showa 47).The lifestyle and tools of people in the Jomon period have been passed down all the way to people living in Shirakami-Sanchi’s area now.
For instance, culture that flourished in the zone of beech trees in the Jomon period permeates the life of this region even now, as seen in the way they hunt and make firewood, and in their dietary habits, so it can be considered the fundamental culture of the Shirakami Mountains.
The way people dig holes and preserve vegetables in the ground now was passed down in a different form from people in the Jomon period, who preserved food such as nuts in holes in the ground for storage.
In the zone of beech trees, people removed the bitter tastes of horse chestnuts and acorns and ate them until recently. The method of burning beech trees and using their ashes for the removal of bitter tastes is also said to date back to the Jomon period.
Even after rice growing started, food preservation was very important in order to prepare for famine (kegazu). Mostly powered horse chestnuts and acorns were stored.