The city of Tomioka in southwestern Gunma Prefecture
is the site of Japan's first modern silk factory, established in 1872.
The Tomioka Silk Mill served as a model for other silk mills in the country
in an effort to modernize Japan's silk industry during the Meiji Period,
when far reaching reforms were carried out in all aspects of society in
order to catch up with the West. The mill played an important role in
making the textile industry Japan's most important industry for several
decades, sustaining the growth of Japan's economy.