The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Various Social Conditions

Dance Performed to Shamisen Accompaniment in the Living Room of Oshima Boardinghouse
January 1966

Oshima Naya no Zashiki, Shamisen to Odori
[Dance Performed to Shamisen Accompaniment in the Living Room of Oshima Boardinghouse]
38.0 x 53.9 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

K Coal Pit was opened in 1894 and closed in 1965.
(Jomon is another word for "beppin" which means "beauty.")
In 1899, the elegant sound of a shamisen was heard every night from the living room of Oshima Boardinghouse in Kamimio Coal Pit, where most people were leading such a wild life that quarrels, bloodshed or assault and battery cases happened every day. There was no one who would not listen to the sound and rhythm of this shamisen because it was almost impossible for the people in the pit (yama), which had no amusement facilities, to hear such music. The sound of the shamisen was a great comfort for the miners (yamabito) in the pit at that time. We boys also peeped through the windows of the house. In the living room, Mrs. Oshima (okamisan) was playing the shamisen, sitting on the floor, and her eighteen-year-old daughter Oyuki-san was dancing. Oyuki-san was a real jomon (kaigo no hana: intelligent flower or beauty).

Song Lyrics Sung to Shamisen Accompaniment
Yuki wa chira chira.
Kodomo wa yorokobu.
Otona wa kojikeru.
Inu me wa tonde kuru. Sassa!
Yuki o marumete
hoki de hawaku yara.
Yane no yukya
sao de sasu.
Chiri-chiri tsun ten shan!

It's snowing
and the children are delighted.
The grown-ups are confused.
The dog comes running. Sassa! (Interjected chant)
The children make snowballs.
They broom the fallen snow,
sweeping up the snow
on the roofs with poles.
Chiri-chiri tsun ten shan! (Onomatopoeias showing the sounds of a shamisen)

They also performed other songs and dances, such as Gosho no Oniwa (The Garden of the Emperor's Palace), Honen Mansaku (Bumper Harvest), Watanabe no Tsuna no Kabuto (The Helmet of Tsuna of the Watanabes) as well as Oppeke Odori Dance in which the dancer wore a comical mask of a person with lumps on the face.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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