The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Yama Visitors

Visitors to the Pit (Yama) in the Meiji Era (1868-1912) (Pilgrims)
May 1967

Meiji Yama no Homonsha (Henro)
[Visitors to the Pit (Yama) in the Meiji Era (1868-1912) (Pilgrims)]
37.9 x 53.7 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

(It was said that pilgrims like these did not fit any metal fittings called ishizuki to cover the bottoms of their long sticks called kongo-jo or kongo-zue.)

Song Lyrics

Chin! Chin! Kan! Kan! (Onomatopoeias of the sounds of their bell and gong)
Nammai yute, kome sansho morota.
Mah nisho moraeba gosho (7.5 kiro) to naru.
Yoi, yoi!

Chink! Chink! Clang! Clang!
We've got 3 sho of rice by chanting incantations.
We could have 5 sho (7.5 kg) of rice if we get another 2.
Well, well!

[Translator's Notes: "Sho" is a unit of volume equal to approximately 1.8 liters. 1 sho of rice weighs approximately 1.5 kg. The above "gosho" has two meanings of 5 sho (7.5 kg) and "the afterlife."]

Most pilgrims called henro-san chanted Namu-Daishi-Henjo-Kongo (I believe and practice the teachings of Mahavairocana, the great teacher). However, there was another group of pilgrims called rokuju rokubu, who traveled in pairs. One of them carried very heavy burdens. It was not only because he shouldered a Buddhist altar, but also because he wore a dangerous tool. This was a small gong hung in front of his legs. If he missed the gong when he beat it with his hammer, he could hit his testicles. Some witty old miner worried about him, saying that he worked at the risk of his own life.

[Translator's Notes: A pair of priests called rokuju rokubu (Nihon kaikoku daijo myoten rokuju rokubukyo hjiri: Buddhist pilgrims carrying rokuju rokubukyo i.e. sixty-six copies of the Lotus Sutra) traveled round Japan to offer a copy of the Lotus Sutra to a temple or shrine in each of the sixty-six provinces.]

Text at the Bottom Left
They put the Buddhist altar in the square of the pit and loudly rang a singing bowl of about 25 cm in diameter inside the altar. They burned two cheap incense sticks before chanting some Buddhist sutra which ordinary people could not understand. Some believers gave mine tokens of 5 rin (0.005 yen) or 1 sen (0.01 yen) as an offering to them.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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