The Ishikari coal basin lies in the tertiary mountains of the mining region of Sorachi, east of the Ishikari Plain in central Hokkaido. These coal veins contain the largest quantity of coal of Japan. Because of its late discovery the historical role of the coalfield could not be compared with that of the Chikuho coalfield, but its economic importance since the Japanese industrial revolution is comparable with that of the southern Chikuhō coalfield.
It was explorer Matsuura Takeshirō (松 浦 武 四郎), who, during his journey through Hokkaido in 1857, first marked the coal seams on the banks of the Sorachi river near Akabira. In 1868, carpenter Kimura Kichitarō (木村 吉太郎) discovered coal in Horonai, Mikasa (三 笠). However, it took another six years before the local government took action, and the mining engineers Benjamin Smith Lyman and Takeaki Enomoto welded an investigation. Their findings were satisfactory, and the Meiji government decided to build in Horonai the first coalmine of the Ishikari coal basin. In 1889, the Meiji government sold off the mine and its railways to, Hori Motoi, who found the Hokkaido Colliery and Railway Company (北海道炭礦鉄道会社 Hokkaidō Tankō Tetsudō Kaisha), abbreviated as Hokutan.
Alongside to the historic mine Horonai this basin is also home to the famous mining town of Yūbari (夕張市). Here in 1888, coal was discovered by engineer (坂市太郎) Ban Ichitarō (1854-1920), a follower of Benjamin Smith Lyman, on the upper reaches of the river Shihorokabetsu (士幌加別川). The following year, Hokutan opened its first colliery in Yūbari, the Yūbari Saitanjo (夕張採炭所).
Location of the Coalfield and its Collieries
List of Coal Mines in Ishikari
- Glenn T. Trewartha, Japan a Physical, Cultural & Regional Geography, p.90.
- Kodama Kiyoomi (児玉清臣), Sekitan no gijutsushi (石炭技術史), p.19.
- Yoshioka Hirotaka (吉岡宏高), Shoninsha no tame no tankõkōza (初任者のための炭鉱講座).
- Kasuga Yutaka, Transfer and Development of Coal-Mine Technology in Hokkaido, pp. 11-20.
- Laura E. Hein, Feuling Growth, p.32.; Richard J. Samuels, Rich Nation, Strong Army, p.74.
- Satō Manami (佐藤真奈美), Hokkaidō Yūbarishi ni okeru chiikisaisei (北海道夕張市における地域再生), p.37.
- Hokkaidō Shinbun Sorachi 'Yama' Shuzaihan (北海道新聞空知「炭鉱」取材班), Sorachi Tankōisan Sanpō (空知炭鉱遺産散歩), pp.34-199.; Hokkaido Government Sorachi Subprefectural Office (空知支庁), Sorachi Tankōisan to Kankō (空知炭鉱遺産と観光).
- Hokkaidō Shinbun Sorachi 'Yama' Shuzaihan (北海道新聞空知「炭鉱」取材班), loco citato.
- Hokkaido Government Sorachi Subprefectural Office (空知支庁), opere citato.