The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Other work at the yama

Guard House for Fire in the Middle and Late Meiji Era (1868-1912)
1964 - 1967

Meiji Chu-koki Hiban
[Guard House for Fire in the Middle and Late Meiji Era (1868-1912)]
38.1 x 54.3 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Text on the Right Side
These facilities were abolished in the late Taisho era (1912-1926).
Some coal mines had guard houses for fire called hibans underground around 1899, but they were rare in number. In coal mines with no fear of gas explosions (gasuke), lamps called kanteras using naked lights were used even after World War II in the Showa era (1926-1989).
An old coal miner was assigned to work at such a station. He cleaned safety lanterns and served tobacco to pit workers. These stations were placed at safe areas near turnouts called makitates, and many coal miners visited them. The station keeper picked up and handed out 5 or 6 kiserus (small smoking pipes) of tobacco to a person at one time. Three kiserus were furnished free, each tied to the counter with a string. Miners who came later called loudly, "Banjiri! Banjiri! [Hurry up and pass the pipes to the ones at the end of the line!]'' The tobacco was the cheapest Nadeshiko tobacco, sold at just 3 sen (0.03 yen) for about 5 momme (1.3 g). For some time after safety lanterns replaced old kanteras, miners would complain very much about the inconvenience that they could not freely smoke underground.
Lots of coal miners gathered at these guard houses or lamp stations including those waiting for mine cars, and they enjoyed chatting about various things there. Among such station keepers, there was a good speaker who knew how to let customers have fun and laugh. There was also a bad custom of underage smoking in coal mines, though it was strictly prohibited at that time.

Text at the Top Left
Banjiri calls were noisy. Someone said, "Hey! Pass the banjiri (the last one) a pipe right now before smoke leaks from your bottom.''
When only kanteras were used in coal mines, each pit worker could enter the pit, bringing a set consisting of a tinplate tobacco case and a pipe on his/her waist. It was a restriction on freedom for them not to be able to smoke underground. The lights of Clanny-type safety lanterns [invented by Dr. Clanny] held by atomukis (helpers: mainly women) were dim because of their whole-net chimneys. Rapeseed oil or fish oil was used as their fuel.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

<<Last pictorial record    Next pictorial record>>

1 | 2 | 3|4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |   Next 10 Items>>