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The Mid-Meiji-Era (1868-1912) Coal Pit: Thin Coal Bed Called Shakunashi
1964 - 1967

Meiji Chuki no Yama: Teisotan Shakunashi
[The Mid-Meiji-Era (1868-1912) Coal Pit: Thin Coal Bed Called Shakunashi]
38.1 x 54.4 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

The deepest coal beds mined at K coal Pit and S Coal Pit were 45 to 60 cm thick. A hewer mined such a thin coal bed in a squatting position, laying his one hand on his knee. This way was called shikiude. He could not raise his head while mining coal. Mining by tsuradori (mining coalfaces evenly) was inefficient on all coalfaces. Miners could not earn much money if they did not mine much coal by undercutting their coalfaces and hacking off the hanging coal in the holes made after undercutting the coalfaces. It was not easy for big men to mine coal on such coalfaces.

Funtan Osei (Active Mining of Slack Coal)
Coal dressing machines were improved in the beginning of the Showa era (1926-1989) and miners began to hack off the series of coal and rock seams called san-mai, which was composed of three coal seams and three rock seams and had been left untouched before (see the inset). Mining of another series of coal and rock seams called "nakagumi tan" was also started at this time. This was composed of 7 coal seams and 7 rock seams and about 1.5 meters thick. It was also called "nanahera." There was a coal seam called sanjaku-so 5 meters above the nanahera, making 12 coal seams in total.

Creator's Additional Notes: Mining coal was safer in the past because the san-mai was not mined and roof falls seldom occurred without using lots of mine timber. Today miners need to use lots of timber.

Words in the Inset
shirobota daiten: white rock main roof
chakasu: a kind of carbonaceous shale
sumi: coal
bota: rock, refuse or debris
honsu: main coal seam with no refuse
shakunashi tan: thin coal seam no thicker than about 60 centimeters
rokujussenchi kurai: about 60 centimeters

Lyrics of "Gotton Bushi" Song at the Bottom Right
Dose kono yama shikai to miete,
nobori hon-kairo ni koro ga nai.
Dokkoi! Gotton!

It seems that this pit will be shut sooner or later,
because no wooden ladders are laid in the main ascending haulage way.
Dokkoi! Gotton (Clang)! (Interjected chants)

Text at the Bottom Center
The coal sled was made of two oil cans which were cut and joined together.
It could carry approximately 120 kilograms of coal.
A pair of miners mined approximately a half ton of coal a day.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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