The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Transport (inside the mine)

Stepping Back on a Dip of about 20 Degrees, Supporting a Coal Sled
1964 - 1967

Bangayari (Keisha) Nijudo Kurai de no Sura Umpan
[Stepping Back on a Dip of about 20 Degrees, Supporting a Coal Sled]
38.3 x 54.4 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

In the middle of the Meiji era (1868-1912), it was impossible for even a strong man to support a coal sled (sura) with his arms when the dip (bangayari) of the haulage way was twenty degrees or more. Female workers knew how to handle suras better than male workers. They supported their suras with the top of their heads and controlled the direction with both arms. Missing a single step on the ladder (koro) was dangerous. As haulage ways (kairo: normally kaido) were shared with other workers, she could accidentally involve and injure others.
Tin plates made from oil cans were put on both of the left and right side panels of the sura to reinforce it. Also additional boards were put on all four sides of the sura so that pit workers could load the sura with about 200 kg of coal.
In narrow haulage ways with low ceilings, there was no space to turn aside for other workers.

Lyrics of "Gotton Bushi" Song
Mitemo zoun to suru Kanaya n tan no tsutsumi,
sama-chan ga "Ompurupun" to yuta tsutsumi.

I shudder at the sight of the pond of the pit of Kanaya,
at which my sweetheart said shuddering,
"Ompurupun (Onomatopoeia to express one's fear)."
Gotton (Clang)! (Interjected chant)

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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