The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Fights, Rice Riots

Pit Workers (Yamabito) in the Meiji Era (1868-1912): Arbitration of a Fight
June 1965

Meiji no Yamabito: Kenka no Chusai
[Pit Workers (Yamabito) in the Meiji Era (1868-1912): Arbitration of a Fight]
38.2 x54.0 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Even miners who frequently had fights or exchanged blows with swords made up with each other after fighting. Of course, men of influence in the pit (yama) arbitrated between the parties concerned and there was a ritual to reconcile them.
The arbitrator had the parties concerned sit on both sides and held sake cups in his hands with his arms crossed, letting both parties drink sake after pouring it in the cups. When the cups were returned to him, he reversed the upper and lower positions of his arms to let both parties drink sake again. Then the arbitrator made an address:

Arbitrator: "Thank you very much for leaving it to me to arbitrate between you this time. Will you forgive each other and forget everything so as to be close friends hereafter?"
Miner A: "I'm sorry I was immodest and thoughtless."
Miner B: "Don't mention it. I troubled you from my misunderstanding."

The settlement of disputes was thus confirmed. The arbitrator received the sake cups and took the initiative, leading the group in clapping hands three times, saying, "Yoi, yoi, yoi!" After that, he wrapped some salt in a piece of Japanese calligraphy paper, tipped two chop sticks to the pack, soaked it with water, and threw it at the ceiling. The meeting broke up after the pack stuck to the ceiling (inside of the roof).
(Small dried sardines, cut tubular fish paste [subochikuwa] sold at 2 sen [0.02 yen] a piece and other ready-made foods were put on the low dining table. The sake was not warmed at first because they were afraid that the meeting might become long, though it was warmed later.)
In this case, the participants did not talk much, drink a lot, or stay there long. The meeting was kept short, stopping their idle talk.
Note: If one party was injured, the other party paid a considerable amount of money as smart money (koyakudai).

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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