Hyogo: Mannequin ‘Idols’ Guide Visitors through Old Silver Mine Characters Speak in 6 Languages

The Yomiuri Shimbun
One of the Ginzan Boyz talks on a tablet screen about the old Ikuno Silver Mine in Asago, Hyogo Prefecture.

ASAGO, Hyogo — A group of CGI characters called Ginzan Boyz is guiding visitors through an old silver mine in Asago, Hyogo Prefecture.

Visitors can now walk through more thatn 1 kilometer of the now-defunct Ikuno Silver Mine. The “idols” are based on 60 mannequins placed throughout the tunnel, which have been highly popular with tourists.

It was previously impossible to use mobile phones or the internet in the mine because radio waves cannot penetrate the rock surrounding the tunnel. However, fiber optic cables and Wi-Fi routers were recently installed in a 700-meter-long section, allowing visitors to access the internet.

The Ginzan Boyz, whose name comes from the Japanese word for silver mine, are mannequins placed inside the tunnel to show visitors how men used to work in the mine, but have become admired by visitors as “super underground idols.” Their virtual avatars appear on smartphone screens when visitors scan QR codes at five locations, such as an elevator and a winch, and can speak in six languages, including Japanese and English.