The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Transport (outside the mine), Coal Sorting

Small Coal Pit Mining Coal by Badger-hole Method of Mining in the Meiji Era (1868-1912)
May 1967

Meiji Tanukibori-shiki Koyama
[Small Coal Pit Mining Coal by Badger-hole Method of Mining in the Meiji Era (1868-1912)]
37.7 x 53.6 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Text at the Top Right
Lyrics of "Gotton Bushi" Song
Oroshizoko kara hyakkin kago ninote,
tsuyade detekuru washi ga sama. Gotton!

It's my sweetheart that is coming up so amorously from the slope bottom,
shouldering a yoke and a pair of baskets filled with 100 kin (60 kg) of coal in total.
Gotton (Clang)! (Interjected chant)

An average female atoyama (a helper of a hewer) carried about 50 kg of coal. People considered a female atoyama carrying 60 kg of coal to be a manly woman. Some baras (bottomless bamboo baskets) with a capacity of about a half ton of coal were prepared for each carrier. Every bara was removed after it became full, leaving many coal heaps one after another. The kiri-chin i.e. the wages for coal mining at such pits were a little higher than those at other coal pits using mine cars. It was because their haulage ways from coalfaces to the surface were very long.

Text at the Bottom Left
They became full-fledged carriers after they got calluses on their waists from using senas (sets consisting of a yoke and two baskets for carrying coal). A front basket needed to be tilted about 30 degrees when going up slopes. Each carrier used a shumoku-zue (a very short L-shaped stick) of 15 cm or less. If it was longer than that length, he/she would be off balance. It was better to use sticks about 10 cm long. When it was possible, they also wore clothes inside the pit even when it was hot.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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