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The Meiji-Era (1868-1912) Coalface (Mining the Coalface of 60 Centimeters or Less Thick)
May 1966

Meiji (Sumitake Rokujussenchi Ika no Kiriha de no Saitan)
[The Meiji-Era (1868-1912) Coalface (Mining the Coalface of 60 Centimeters or Less Thick)]
38.1 x54.2 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Text at the Bottom Right
The woman helper (atoyama) fitted a few narrowly-cut pieces of tin plating to the part of her karui (towing rope) that touched her waist so that the rope would not wear out. It was painful for tall miners to work at thin coalfaces. The miners at that time made it a rule to work naked even if it was not so hot underground.

Text at the Top Left
In mining the coalface of 60 centimeters or less thick, both heads of the sakiyama (coal hewer) and the atoyama (helper) touched the roof. It was very hard for the helper to carry out the mined coal to the temporary coal storage called a kabudashiba. There were also thinner coalfaces about 45 centimeters thick, such as those of so-called shakunashi-so [literally less-than-thirty-centimeter coal beds] at K Coal Pit and S Coal Pit run by Mr. A. In mining coalfaces thinner than the above, it was difficult for the hewer to mine in a squatting position.
Since the series of three thin coal seams and two thin rock seams called san-mai tan covering the roof was left untouched at that time, the surface of the roof was so full of snags like a cheese grater that the backs of the miners could be "peeled" or injured if they scraped the roof.
Only the two parallel lines on the bottom of the haulage way for towing the sura (coal sled) were made higher than other parts of the bottom by about 10 centimeters by digging a ditch in the center. But the cutting work of the bottom was very difficult because the bottom rock was very hard. Additionally, no wages were paid for the work.
Though the coal sled was a small one, which was composed of two boxes joined together with additional plates, the gaps between the tops of them and the roofs of haulage ways were usually about 15 centimeters.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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