Mine locations
in the map of Japan

Mine Management

Japan, one of the world’s most resourceful countries of metal, produced silver, equivalent with one-third of the entire output, at some time in Edo period, and in the second half of the 17th century, it topped the world in copper production. Osakaya was engaged in mine management at various locations of Japan, and they developed raw copper locally and then shipped them to Osakaya main store in Osaka, by taking a sea route. According to the record of 1708, they produced copper of 2.16 million kilo grams or 21600 tons, at their Ani dozan(copper mine), owned by Akita domain. This figure was equal to 700,000 koku in rice value.


Copper mines were concentrated in the Tohoko district, especially in Dewa province, now known as Akita prefecture. Copper, produced in Ani, Akita, was shipped along Yoneshirogawa River to Noshiro port, where it was unloaded from a small boat and loaded onto Kitamaebune, a major cargo boat. Then it was once again landed at Echizennokuni Tsuruga, now known as Tsuruga-shi, Fukui, and put in a small boat. Going south along Lake Biwa, and then through Otsu, it was finally shipped to Osakaya, which was located in the center of Osaka. One package contained raw copper of 16 kan, equal to 60 kilo grams, and a boat of copper was 2,000 such packages. Akita domain imposed the shipping tax on Osakaya, and it was silver of 5 monme 4 bu per package.

Smelting works

Copper ores were shipped to Osakaya’s main store from nationwide, which were smelted to be copper poles. Copper contains a small amount of silver and the method to extract silver by means of lead, was called “nanbanbuki”, which was the state-of-the-art industry of the world, and introduced from the western nations. Nanbanbuki required financial background and high skills, and only “goyosho” (merchant who was authorized by the government) were allowed to use this method. Among others, No.1 Sumitomo and No.2 Osakaya made a huge profit in this industry.

Overseas trade

After silver was extracted, copper was shipped to Edo, and sold as local copper at Osakaya’s Edo store, or exported via their Nagasaki store. Copper poles were sent to Europe, China, Southeast Asia, India or Arabian Peninsula, by Dutch ships or Chinese ships. Most of the purchase of merchandises from overseas were offset by sale of copper, and so such copper was called “Nagasaki kaido” or “Nagasaki goyodo”(copper sold to foreign countries in exchange with imported goods).

In 1716, Akita domain’s “Nagasaki kaido” was 1.02 million kilo grams or 12000 tons, which accounted for 37% of Japan’s total export.

Kaiseizouho Kokuho Osakazenzu

(revised version of drawing of Osaka area; national asset),owned by Department of Literature, Osaka University.
Kaiseizouho Kokuho Osakazenzu(reviewed version of drawing of Osaka are; national asset), owned by Department of Literature, Osaka University.Osakaya’s Osaka main store was located in the direction of south-west of Yotsubashi bridge, and it was convenient for shipping transportation. The north of its property was facing Unagitanisuji, the south facing Daihoujichousuji, and west facing Yokoborigawa river. Along the river was called “Osakayanohama”(Osakaya’s seashore). Osakaya was located in Minamisenba, now known as Nishishinsaibashi, Minami-ku, Osaka-shi.

List of mine managed by Osakaya

1673 Nagamatsu copper mine(Shinjo domain)
Aguchi copper mine(Matsuyama domain)
1689 Futatsumori copper mine(Sendai domain)
Kumasawa copper mine(Sendai domain)
Hatagamabo copper mine(Akita domain)
Ani Sanmai copper mine(Akita domain)
Ani Itakizawa copper mine(Akita domain)
Ani Oosawa copper mine(Akita domain)
Ani Akazawa copper mine(Akita domain
) Ani Fujikoto copper mine(Akita domain)
1691 Kurishima copper mine(Shimotsuke province)
1697-1703 Ani Nanajumai copper mine(Akita domain)
Ani Tengudaira copper mine(Akita domain)
Ani Yakinosawa copper mine(Akita domain)
Ani copper mine(Akita domain)
Makinosawa copper mine(Akita domain)
Ichinisannomata copper mine(Akita domain)
Ani Kayakusa copper mine(Akita domain)
Tatsuki lead mine(Shonai domain)
Osarizawa copper mine(Morioka domain)
Nakase gold mine(Tajima domain)
Ani Itakizawa copper mine(Akita domain)
Izawa copper mine(Akita domain)
Shirane copper mine(Morioka domain)
Aso copper mine(Dewa province)
Fujikotodaira lead mine(Akita domain)
Tozawa copper mine(Dewa province)
1704-1710 Sumiyazawa copper lead mine(Akita domain)
Yuya copper mine(Harima province)
Tabuchi copper mine(Harima province)
Osariza copper mine(Tsugaru domain)
1711-1716 Himiichi lead mine(Akita domain)
Hatake silver mine(Akita domain)
1716-1735 Tatake silver mine(Akita domain)
Kamemitsumori lead mine(Akita domain)
Kanahorizawa lead mine(Akita domain)
Yatoyazawa lead mine(Akita domain)
Meishutoorizawa lead mine(Akita domain)
Shidomae copper mine(Sendai domain)
Tatekawa copper mine(Saijo domain)
Kaneda copper mine(Matsuyama domain)
Fukuchiyama copper mine(Tanba domain)
Ebara copper mine(Tanba domain)
Nakanogawa copper mine(Kameyama domain)
Aguchi copper mine(Matsuyama domain)
Okuramura copper mine(Shinjo domain)
Innai silver mine(Akita domain)
Oomori silver copper mine(Sendai domain)
1736-1743 Serifurushiroyama copper mine(Oosu domain)
Nagamatsu copper mine(Shinjo domain)
Sugiwarisawa lead mine(Akita domain)
Imadekatakoyama copper mine(Uwajima domain)
Himiichi lead mine(Akita domain)
Himiichi lead mine(Akita domain)
Kusahesawa copper mine etc(Akita domain)
1741-1744 Akitasotohimiichi copper mine(Dewa province)
Andousawa lead mine(Akita domain)
Heitonai lead mine(Akita domain)
Ooshinsawahigashimata copper mine
(Akita domain)
Hatsuishizawa copper mine(Dewa province)
Kosabanaiko lead mine(Akita domain)
Shinekarisawa copper mine(Akita domain)
1744 Ohsawako lead and copper mine(Akita domain)
1766 Reisuisawa lead mine(Akita domain)
1781-1788 Konafuki lead mine(Akita domain)
Taira lead mine(Akita domain)
Yanabasawa lead mine(Akita domain)
1789〜1800 Innai silver mine(Akita domain)
Hachimori silver mine(Akita domain)
Kohigashimatasawazawa lead mine
(Akita domain)
Denomae lead mine(Akita domain)
1801 Ani Ninomataoosawa copper mine
(Akita domain)

The above was quoted from “Ginshonintomachi—Osakaya Kuzaemon-wo-reini”(silver merchants and towns; Osakaya Kuzaemon cited as a case study) written by Sugane Nakagawa, historical review, published in 1995)