In the 1870s, Italian and French types silk reeling machines were introduced to Japan. Some people in Okaya, through their ingenuity, improved upon them with the Suwa reeling machine.
This technology spread across Japan. Much of Okaya’s raw silk was exported, and it became an important silk making center. Known as “Silk Okaya,” the city greatly contributing to Japan’s modernization.
In October of 1962, Okaya’s pioneering enterprise was handed on for the good of posterity and.further industrial development. With the cooperation of the Suwa Silk Society and National Sericulture Officials, the Okaya Silk Museum opened its doors.
A collection of approximately 30,000 items is on display, including silk reeling machinery, documents, and materials like silk industry administrative archives. A portion of the collection was designated a Prefectural Tangible Cultural Folk Property in 1966. In 2003 our silk industry documentation was recognized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as part of the “Modern Industrial Heritage.” And then in 2007 the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers designated eight of the museum’s reeling machines as part of the “Mechanical Engineering Heritage.”
Among those there are numerous items of great value that can only be viewed at this museum, such as a French type silk reeling machine, and Suwa type silk reeling machines.
On August 1st 2014, after a half century of operation, the Okaya Silk Museum moved to Okaya’s Former Silk Inspection Facility. Along with the adjacent Miyasaka Silk Mill, the museum was reborn, providing the rare opportunity to encounter the world of silk with the five senses, that is, the hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. As a nickname, the museum has extracted “fact” from “factory” to emphasize the existence of Okaya’s silk industry, referring to itself as “Silk Fact Okaya.”
Learning from the accomplishments of the past, the Okaya Silk Museum promotes a spirit of craftsmanship and a new silk culture.
For visitors coming by car
The Okaya Silk Museum moved from its facility in Okaya’s Honmachi neighborhood and re-opened on August 1, 2014.
Many car navigation systems misdirect to the old facility, so we recommend entering the adjacent Okaya Chamber of Commerce instead. （TEL: 0266-23-2345) We apologize for the inconvenience. (NOTE: The Okaya Silk Museum’s location is current with Google Maps)