I thought of this wise quote last weekend when we visited a place called Iwami Ginzan, the site of an old silver mine in Shimane Prefecture, about three hours by car from Hiroshima.
Once called “The Silver Mine Kingdom,” Iwami Ginzan was the largest silver mine in Japanese history. From 1526 to 1923—nearly 400 years—it was one of the world’s most prominent silver mines, producing, at its peak, around one-third of the world’s silver. In 2007, the mine and its environs became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The 400-year history of Iwami Ginzan is present wherever you turn: in the old mine shafts, riddled with digging; in the crumbling temples which dot the local woods; in the small town with its homes and buildings, as if frozen in time from days long ago.
As we explored Iwami Ginzan by bicycle and on foot, I couldn’t help imagining the lives that were lived during those 400 years, the many generations of miners and their families who were born here, raised here, played here, worked here, married here, had children here, grew old here, died here.
Four hundred years from now, after all of us are gone and no trace of this blog remains, what will be left behind? The fact is, even many generations later, it’s very possible that the efforts we’re making today to foster bilingual children will still be felt in the distant future, in the lives and language ability of the descendants we’ll never see.
Want to make history? Raise a bilingual child.