The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Yama Living

Couple Working Together
1964 - 1967

Fufu Tomokasegi
[Couple Working Together]
38.0 x 53.8 cm Painting in Watercolors and Inks

Text on the Right
This painting shows a couple working together in or before the decade starting from 1897. This couple finished a day's work and exited the pit a while ago. As soon as they came out of the pit, the husband sakiyama (hewer) immediately took a bath to wash off the coal dust attached to his body and began to drink sake (agarizake/banshaku), sitting cross-legged. His wife atoyama (helper/carrier) is busy doing kitchen work after she quickly finished bathing before her husband and preparing sake for him. Householders with children were far busier. A pair of miners called a hitosaki composed of husband and wife, a parent and a child, brothers, or sisters was called an uchiuchi. Members of a pair of miners from different families were called a tanin sakiyama and a tanin atoyama (atomuki) instead of referring to them in dialect. A team of three workers was called a san-nin moyai and a team of four workers a futasaki. Every sakiyama did about 60 % of the work of his team and had the greatest authority over other team member(s).

Lyrics of "Gooton Bushi" Song
Ishi wa chon kan demo jikan sae tateba,
agarya nigo han ga udemakuri.

Even if I can mine no more than a tub of coal today,
450 milliliters of sake will be waiting for me
when I return home after my working hours are done.
Gotton (Clang)! (Interjected chant)

[Translator's Notes: "Chon kan" means "one tub (mine car)."]

Text at the Top in Blue Ink
The roofs of row houses were shingled. A row house was 9 shaku (2.72 meters) wide and 2 ken (3.64 meters) long, and had a room of four and a half tatami, as well as a 3.9-shaku-wide (1.18 meter-wide) dirt floor. It did not have any cupboards or ceiling.

Text at the Bottom Left in Blue Ink
At that time, no tortoise-shaped scrubbing brushes (kamenoko tawashi) of hemp were available. Miners used tea whisks (chasen) made of finely cut bamboo, straw ropes (as scrubbing brushes) and soda, or broken tiles and other things to wash their kitchen utensils.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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