The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
All works

People at Coal Pits in the Old Days #1 (A Husband and Wife Descending the Pit)
1958 - 1963

Mukashi Yama no Hitobito #1(Fufu Nyuko)
[People at Coal Pits in the Old Days #1 (A Husband and Wife Descending the Pit)]
20.6 x 29.0 cm Ink Painting

This picture shows a pair of pit workers going down a pit slope in the mid-Meiji era (1868-1912). Only pairs called hitosakis of husband and wife without children, of a parent and a child, or of members from different families entered the coal pit (yama) together as a sakiyama (coal hewer) and an atoyama (helper) at one time. The scheduled time to enter the pit was 3:00 a.m. However, everyone entered the pit earlier. Quite a few pairs entered the pit around 12:00 a.m. Each pair was very competitive and wanted to mine more tubs i.e. mine cars (hako) of coal quicker than other pairs. Some cunning ones tyrannically took all of the empty tubs left underground by the second shift workers on the previous day without leaving any for others (nemari-hako-tori). They laid the tubs down sideways, and scooped up coal into all of them over the course of the day. The empty tubs laid down (nese-bakos) prevented other empty tubs from smoothly descending and other miners had to wait a long time for them to come. Such a situation was called hako-nagure. If someone said to the cunning ones not to take all of the empty tubs, bad quarrels or fights began. That is why many fights and quarrels over tubs (hako kenka) occurred in coal pits.

Lyrics of "Gotton Bushi" Song
Anata ichiban washa niban kata,
agari sagari de au bakari.
Dokkoi! Dokkoi!

You work day and I work night,
and we only see each other in the slope,
descending or ascending it.
Dokkoi! Dokkoi! (Interjected chants)

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

  Next pictorial record>>

1|2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |   Next 10 Items>>