The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Other work at the yama

Underground Station
1964 - 1967

[Underground Station]
38.0 x 54.4 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Text on the Right
This painting shows a sasabeya which originated in the Meiji era (1868-1912). It is in the days when oil lamps were used underground.
This underground station was also called a konai tsumesho. It is said that the word sasabeya comes from a corrupt form of shoshabeya (copying room). Some people say that "sasabeya"' is derived from "sasayakana (small) konai jimusho [underground office or room (heya/ -beya)]" and that it was passed down from mouth to mouth. Chiefs of mining sections (kantoku: saiko kacho), chief underground foremen (konai toryo: saiko kakariin), underground bosses (kogashira: konai gemba), and so on did their office work and took a rest in these rooms. Clerks also worked at sasabeyas in middle and large-scale coal pits. Additionally, underground bosses had to make rounds to rate the results of work at important spots or other spots driven or repaired by undertakers.

Text at the Top Right
On January 26, 1918, a terrible accident occurred in the sasabeya of the No.2 pit in San-nai Coal Pit run by Mr. Takichi Aso. More than two hundred sticks of dynamite exploded at the same time in the room, killing 11 workers including Deputy Chief Underground Foreman Ukichi Nishida (28) and injuring several other people.
That day, mountains and fields as well as the pit were covered with snow more than 10 cm thick, which had been falling since the previous night, and the explosion instantly turned the peaceful pit into a dark tragic scene.
The explosion occurred when some of the victims were warming the above amount of frozen dynamite with the naked lights of safety lanterns. They did it because the dynamite was frozen so hard that they could not insert detonators into each piece. In front of the sasabeya, there was a guard house for fire (hibansho) which was surrounded by lots of miners waiting for empty mine cars in the morning or having a smoke. Some of the miners standing around the hibansho were involved in the accident. Chief Underground Foreman Mr. Hiroshi Aso was not involved in this accident, because he was late entering the pit for official business that morning.

Naked Miner's Words
"Toryo-san, sankata no oku ni ni ga kiteorimasu (kichoru). Imani (Mo) baremasu (bareru) bai."
"Boss, the back of the No. 3 level is in danger of collapse from rock pressure. It will soon collapse."

Descriptions of the Ticket at the Top Left
This is a ticket used at S Coal Pit run by Mr. A in the end of the Meiji era (1868-1912). These tickets were handed out to miners by personnel supervisors (hitoguri) or personnel bosses (jinjigakari) every evening.

Lettering on the Ticket
(Words written in Chinese characters were read from right to left)
saitan dempyo: mining ticket
kasho: place
migi nikata go nobori: No. 5 ascending coalface from the No. 2 level right
seimei: name
Ishino Denzo: Denzo Ishino (hewer's name)
Doh Fuka: Fuka (woman helper's given name) Doh (the same family name)
chingin: wages
botabiki: rate of deduction for mixed refuse
irebiki: rate of deduction for the lack of load
mikomi: expectations for the production of coal
tsuke hiyaku: extraordinary allowance
jiko: thing

Lettering on the Blackboard
oroshi bakku sarae: drainage of backwater in the main slope
san-nin: three people
nikata bota tori: removal of debris in the No. 2 level
futari: two people

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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