The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Omens, Superstitions, Taboos

People at Coal Pits (Yamabito) in the Old Days (The Holiday)
March 1965

Mukashi no Yamabito (Saitan Kyugyo-bi)
[People at Coal Pits (Yamabito) in the Old Days (The Holiday)]
37.9 x 54.2 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Coal pits were closed on the 24th day of the 12th month (Shiwasu) every year on the lunar calendar during the Meiji era (1868-1912). It was because nobody would go to the pit on that day. Everybody said that a mountain goddess took off her clothes and washed them in each mountain or pit on that day. They were afraid of seeing the goddess, believing that anyone who happened to see her without knowing the above would lose his/her eyes, while someone who saw her while knowing this would lose his/her life.
They also believed that it was not a god but a goddess who visited their pits, and male miners called their wives yama no kami [yama: mountain/coal pit; kami: god/goddess]. I suppose that they believed in the goddess of Mt. Fuji (Sengen Shrine), Konohanasakuya-hime-no-mikoto. She is a daughter of the original mountain god in Japan Oyamatsumi-no-mikoto and I think the above legend makes a lot of sense.
(Farmers also did not go to mountains on that day.)

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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