The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Various Social Conditions

Gambling, the Greatest Amusement for Pit Workers in the Old Days: Its Nature Was Desire
June 1965

Mukashi no Yamabito ga Mujo no Goraku ni Shiteita Bakuchi: Shotai wa Yoku
[Gambling, the Greatest Amusement for Pit Workers in the Old Days: Its Nature Was Desire]
38.0 x 54.0 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

There were theaters in the towns where county offices were located, such as Gotoji and Kawara in Tagawa County, Iizuka in Kaho County, Nogata in Kurate County, and Orio in Onga County. But most of the coal pits in this region were far from them and the pit workers rarely went to the theater. On the other hand, there was no amusement facility in the pits. Therefore, miners usually gambled when they gathered together. The pit workers at that time did not play the old Tsubo Cho-han dice game where two dice were put into a teacup and overturned onto the floor. Instead, they played Nage Cho-han, played by throwing three dice on the floor and betting on the cast of even or odd numbers. The dice game which was the most popular and most frequently played among them was Mitsuzu which also threw three dice.
The women pit workers did not play dice games, but played card games, such as hanafuda and mamefuda or gajifuda.
48 playing cards were used in hanafuda games. One of the hanafuda games played by two people was called Yamasuke or Roppyakken and the player who got 600 points first became the winner of the game. (The usual hanafuda game also called Nakatsubana or Betabana was played by three people.)
40 mamefuda playing cards also called gajifudas were used in mamefuda games. One of the mamefuda games called Mekuri was played by three people with 36 cards. When the game was played by two people, it was called Gaji.)
Gaji: In this game, there were scoring combinations, such as 1, 2, 3 and 10; 5, 4, and 6 (gu-shi-roku); 5, 6, and 10 (go-ro-ju), etc. Ago no shi or 4 (shi) of ago (unknown) was also regarded as a 5 (go). The person with an ambiguous attitude was called "ago no shi " or "shi nari go nari (4 or 5)."
They played another hanafuda game called Yoshi or Oicho-kabu. [Translator's Notes: In this game, the player who makes a combination of two or three cards whose numbers total as close as or equal 9 becomes the winner.] It was best to aim for a combination of cards called Sururi [probably a hand composed of two cards representing numbers which makes 9] and Kumushi [probably a hand composed of three cards representing 9 (ku), 6 (mu ), and 4 (shi)]. It was very advantageous for a player if the total number of his/her combination of cards reached 8.
Nage Cho-han dice game had some winning combinations, such as Mizuki, Inga, and Chon, in which the points of the winner were quadrupled.

The criminal law on crimes related to gambling and lotteries was changed and enforced by the Second Katsura Cabinet in 1908, and the police became able to arrest both gamblers and persons in their company. Additionally, gamblers were fined 20 yen at the minimum and up to 10,000 yen at the maximum instead of being imprisoned like before. However, gambling among miners never ceased. 20 yen at that time equals today's 20,000 yen or more.

Description of Mitsuzu
In the Mitsuzu dice game using three dice, the banker could take all.
The chips for Mitsuzu were made of big-sized paper strings wrapped with golden paper as shown.
Chips for Mitsuzu
(Biiru) 7, 12, 17
(Souto) 5, 10, 15
(Shiku) 4, 9, 14
(Hachi) 3, 8, 13, 18

The numbers at the left end are winning numbers.
6-1, 2, 3; 2, 2, 2 (Nizoro); 1, 1, 4 (Ponshi)
11-3, 2, 6; 4, 1, 6; 3, 3, 5; 5, 4, 2 (Gu Shi no Ni); 5, 5, 1 (Tenkaichi)
16-6, 4, 6 (Aishi); 5, 5, 6 (Ainoshima)

Text at the Top
Sai wa gon go roku Ainoshima.

The cast of the dice made the winning combination called Ainoshima, composed of double fives and a six.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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