The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Yama Visitors

Monkey Trainer in the Meiji Era (1868-1912)
April 1965

Meiji Sarumawashi
[Monkey Trainer in the Meiji Era (1868-1912)]
38.1 x 54.4 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Why did pit workers (yama no hito) in the old days hate monkeys (saru)? It was because most of them were gamblers and everyone was afraid of being arrested and having a cord tied around their waist like a monkey. Additionally, all of them connected the sound of saru with that of another word also pronounced saru meaning "to leave or lose" and so hated monkeys, considering them as ominous animals. Miners also distorted the meaning of the red faces of monkeys and regarded them as crafty. In spite of the fact that miners hated monkeys so much, the monkey trainer sometimes visited the pit and entertained children. However, even children could not call the monkey a saru and they had to call it a yaen (wild monkey).

Lyrics of the Song at the Top Left Sung by the Monkey Trainer

Sarumawashi! Toton-ko-ton!
Shikkari shiyanto! Shikkari shiyanto!
Iso no hamabe no kani no yokobai.
Ojiisan, doko iku? Sentaku ni.
Babasan, doko iku? Shibakari ni.
Arya! Dokkoi! Dokkoi!
Shikkari shianto! Shikkari shiyanto!

Here's a performing monkey! Toton-ko-ton! (Onomatopoeia of the drumbeat)
Steady! Steady!
Walk like a crab on the beach.
Where are you going, grandfather?
I'm going to wash in the river (normally "gather firewood").
Where are you going, grandmother?
I'm going to gather firewood (normally "wash in the river").
Arya! Dokkoi! Dokkoi! (Interjected chants)
Steady! Steady!

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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