Gems are works of art created by nature and processed by human skill into sophisticated jewelry, dazzling people with their beautiful brilliance since ancient times. A treasure box awaits you at the Yamanashi Gem Museum in Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, which collects precious gemstones from all over the world.
Yamanashi Prefecture has been known for its production of crystals for many years. In the final days of the Edo period (1603-1867), the processing of crystals began in earnest as an industry, and crystal mining peaked in the Meiji era (1868-1912) when mine development was liberalized. The processing industry for imported diamonds and other minerals is still thriving in the prefecture.
The museum opened in 1975 in Kofu, partly with the aim of vitalizing the jewelry industry. In 2007, the museum was relocated to its current spot, where it is visited by many tourists.
The museum exhibits a total of 3,000 pieces, including raw stones, cut gemstones, jewelry items, sculpted handicrafts and various information resources.
Drawing particular attention in the centre of the facility are three crystal clusters from Brazil. A crystal cluster is a group of crystals that were generated deep underground, grew over a long time and fused together.
The three crystal clusters exhibited at the museum weigh from 149 kilograms to 273 kilograms each. The transparent crystals are breathtakingly beautiful as they stand out against the reddish-brown pedestal.
An amethyst geode, which grew in the hollow of a rock, is also remarkable. Purple amethysts fully cover the rock surface, which looks like a work of art. Visitors are also drawn to a giant single crystal, displayed next to the geode, that is 1.8 meters tall and weighs 1.27 tons.
"Human technology is applied to the mystery of nature to create jewelry," said Hotaru Natsume, a 28-year-old woman who visited the museum from Yokohama with her husband.
There are also panels to help visitors learn about gemstones, explaining for example the origin of the word diamond and its history, and introducing the fact that crimson rubies and deep-blue sapphires are the same mineral.
Spring has come in areas around the five lakes near Mt. Fuji. Why not enjoy the luxurious feeling of the museum along with other leisure activities?
■ Yamanashi Gem Museum
The museum has a shop with affordable souvenirs such as key chains and bracelets, as well as authentic jewelry, and a cafe offering tea, cakes and other items.
Address: 6713 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from March to October. 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November to February. Closed on Wednesdays in principle. Open every day in July and August
Admission: ¥600(S$7) for high school students and older, and ¥300 for elementary and junior high school students. Admission is free for the shop and cafe.