At its peak, Iwami Ginzan was one of the top producing silver mines in the world. Its yearly output of 38 tons of silver made up approximately a third of the world's production.
Silver from the mine, known as "Soma Silver," was of exceptionally high quality, and control of the mine was fiercely contested by local clans until it was acquired by the Tokugawa Shogunate in the early 1600s. Since then it was directly controlled by the Tokugawa government, and several castles, guard stations, and fences were erected to maintain control of the region.
Today the majority of the buildings in the mining area are in ruins but a few attractions remain. The main one is the Ryugenji Mabu Mine Shaft, a 273 meter long tunnel and the only shaft of over 600 that is open to the public. Also in the area are the Shimizudani Refinery Ruins and various temples and shrines.
Near the Ryugenji Mabu Mine Shaft are two trails that lead to castle ruins and nearby port towns. The trail leading to Yunotsu and Okidomari is approximately 12 kilometers long, and the trail to Tomogaura is approximately 7 kilometers.