The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Yama Visitors

Visitors to the Pit (Yama) around 1899 or 1900, Nozoki Show Box Interpreters, Who Showed a Picture-story Show at 2 Sen (0.02 Yen) and 1 Sen for Children
1964 - 1967

Meiji Sanju Ni-san-nen Koro Yama no Homonsha, Nozoki, Taijin Nisen, Shojin Issen
[Visitors to the Pit (Yama) around 1899 or 1900, Nozoki Show Box Interpreters, Who Showed a Picture-story Show at 2 Sen (0.02 Yen) for adults and 1 Sen for Children]
38.2 x 54.1 cm painting in Watercolors and Ink

Miners had one holiday in a month as an "exchange day" (also called sannyo-bi on which tickets given for wages were exchanged to real money). Many visitors crowded into mines (to sell or show something) in anticipation of the newly received wages. Among them nozoki (shortened name of a show or the device used in the show normally called a nozokikarakuri) interpreters were the most extravagant. A show with a large nozoki show box was performed by a husband and wife while a show with a small one was performed by one interpreter even on workdays.
The nozoki had more than 10 glass lenses of 60 mm in diameter placed unevenly. The interpreters called kambantatakis beat the upper shelf with thin bamboo sticks loudly enough to almost break the board in order to invigorate themselves as well as the audience. They told a story, singing a tune in which rokyoku (recitation of stories to a shamisen three-stringed instrument accompaniment) and Hitotsutose Bushi (a counting song started by the word "Hitotsutose") were mixed together, gesturing like dancing. They interjected chants such as "Choito chobo chobo chobo choito chobo" between gaps of their tunes to draw in the audience.
The paintings on the signboard were very colorful, beautiful and attractive.
The paintings inside were rather humble, but they were painted on thin half-transparent pieces of paper each pasted on the sliding paper screens to be illuminated from behind. About fifteen to twenty paintings were shown one after another. The themes of the paintings used in nozoki picture plays were mostly of current events as well as of recent and older plays. It was natural that the pit workers liked violent images.
The event shown in the pictures on the sign board is a mass murder case which occurred in Shindo Village, Osumi-Gun, Kanagawa Prefecture (or Shimososhu) on June 17th in 1879. All seven family members of the greedy and pitiless village representative Chozaemon Matsuki were killed by his angry villagers and his house was set on fire. The ringleaders were 25 villagers including Yaemon Kamuri. This program won much applause from people at the pit especially because of the climax scene where the villagers asked the firemen who ran to the site not to extinguish the fire in their enemy's house.

Creator's Additional Notes: The nozoki show was performed in almost every festival and mainly seen outside the mines.

Lettering on the Signboard
Shimo-soshu Oni Kocho Ikka Minagoroshi Yakiuchi Jiken Meiji Juninen: Murder and Arsonry Case of the Family of a Cruel Village Representative in Shimo-soshu in 12 of the Meiji Era
Oni Cho: Cruel Village Representative
Shukai Kamuri: Ringleader Kamuri

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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