Monster mazes, empty spaces, pretty faces and more!

Haikyo – Brick Kiln

Over the last couple of months Andrew and I have been slowly checking off all the sites in the book around Shiga Ken. Today we’re checking out #128 (p.185) and, as usual, without the benefit of any translation we have no idea what to expect, all we know is that it’s somewhere not far from the centre of Omi Hachiman.

As we draw close to the area that we figure it has to be in a huge black brick chimney slides into view above the other buildings. Brick isn’t a typical material in Japan (its dead weight isn’t something you want falling on you during an earthquake) and seeing brick usually suggests a historical or foreign (influenced) building – often both. Guessing that this must be what we’re here to see we park up and make our way across a rather industrial looking bridge and weir combo so see exactly what it is we’ve found.

On the other side of the bridge there are three brick building that despite being in near ruins look like somebody has taken an interest in them. The chimney seems restored and is tethered in place with suspension cables, and two of the buildings have been fenced off in a way that leaves them open for viewing, but inaccessible for exploration.

Not that what you can see suggests there’d be much to explore, just walls without a roof and the remins of some heavy machinery.

The most interesting building though is the one with the chimney sticking out of it, a long, low, all brick structure with an arched tunnel running almost all the way around the outside edge.

As regular intervals little fireplace like alcoves lead off into the interior (which could probably be accessed with bit of claustrophobic crawling which I didn’t try). This place had obviously been a huge kiln of some kind, and judging by the building material I’d guess brick, though it could have been ceramic as well.

The tunnels are quite short, but easy to access and quite atmospheric. Despite pieces of board leaning over the entrances, no huge effort seems to have been made to keep anybody out, and the way it’s obviously been marked (and preserved) as a site of historical interest makes this (along with Minetopia) a very ‘tourist friendly’ site that I’d recommend to anybody with a casual interest in haikyo or industrial history.

So that’s that. A short, sweet, and undemading exploration… that was just the morning though.

That afternoon we drove over to a huge Limestone mine and processing plant (#108, p.156) which will be written up in the next haikyo report.


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