The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Yama Living

Miners Having Breakfast in the Mid-Meiji Era (1868-1912)
October 1967

Meiji Chuki Asa no Kofu
[Miners Having Breakfast in the Mid-Meiji Era (1868-1912)]
37.9 x 54.0 Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Three blows of a steam whistle at 3:00 a.m. called miners to enter the pit.
But some miners tended to start working earlier with lamps while veteran miners went to work later because being punctual was not so important at small and medium-scale coal pits (yama) where miners worked with lamps (kantera) in hands, which were called kantera yama.
They hastily ate rice soaked with hot Japanese tea as soon as they got up in the morning. Pit workers did not cook rice in the morning. They habitually cooked their rice the previous evening because warm rice would rot other foods attached to it like konkon (takuan: pickled Japanese radish).
However, they made a fire in a shichirin (karo: round portable clay stoves) to boil water for morning tea. They made a fire in a white round clay stove called a Hakata shichirin with ishi gara (coke). The clay stove was fragile and hard to use.

Lyrics of "Gotton Bushi" Song
Okete (normally okite) meshi kue konkon soete,
konai sagaru mo taberu tame (oya no bachi [in red ink]).

Get up and have rice with pickled radish,
because we go into the pit to earn our meals (for our parents' fault).
Gotton (Clang)! (Interjected chant)

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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