Upon the defeat of the samurai of the Shonai Domain to the imperial Meiji Government in the 17th century, the samurai had their castle torn down and their prestigious title as warriors stripped away from them.

No longer able to serve their country as warriors, the samurai of Shonai made the drastic choice to serve their country by building up a burgeoning silk industry from scratch converting from samurai to farmers, carpenters, and craftsmen.  Japan desperately needed to build up foreign currency to acquire European guns and cannons and silk was one of the key exports of Japan during the Meiji Era.

The 3,000 former samurai of the Shonai Domain developed over 225 hectares of barren land and used the materials of their former castle to construct a large complex to produce some of the highest grade of silk in all of Japan.

These structures still stand today and house a limited production of silk from start to finish overseen by some of the descendants of these samurai.
Join a local guide of Tsuruoka to explore the silk mills and learn about the remarkable story of the warriors of the Shonai Domain.

On this program we will tour and see the following places.

-A guided walk through the compound of Matsugaoka.
-Live silk worms in various stages of their lifespan depending on the time of year.
-The historic mills that house the machinery and various products produced here.
-Craft workshops that utilize the silk of Matsugaoka for various products.
-We will then end our tour at the Samurai Silk building where we will stop for coffee and other refreshments.

The price for this program includes a bilingual guide and a small gift of samurai silk, the modern rebranding that Matsugaoka is pushing to preserve and protect this important cultural heritage of Yamagata Prefecture.

Please note that we require at least 2 people to sign up for this program to take place.

LOCATION Matsugaoka
Event Date(s) Year Round
Activity Time 10:00am – 12:00pm
Activity Length Approximately 90 minutes
Price 4.000 yen/person 


Please meet in front of the Kibiso Silk building in the location below.

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