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A Vendor Who Visited the Pit (Yama) in the Meiji Era (1868-1912): Bummawashi (Lottery by Spinning a Needle on a Scale Board)
June 1966

Meiji Yama o Otozureshi Shonin: Bummawashi
[A Vendor Who Visited the Pit (Yama) in the Meiji Era (1868-1912):
Bummawashi (Lottery by Spinning a Needle on a Scale Board)]
38.1 x 54.1 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

(The beautiful lines on the scale board were about 8 mm wide and it was rare for a person to win a prize. Each participant in the lottery got a sweet worth about 8 rin [0.008 yen] when he/she missed a prize.)
A flat square wooden board about 1 meter long was put on 2 or 3 coal boxes. The board was covered by a pasteboard with a clock-face-like scale on it. Sweets as prizes were placed at the end of each line of the scale, and then it was ready for the lottery. A long easy-to-spin needle was put in the middle of the scale, and a sewing needle for cotton was hung from its longer end with a thread. If the needle stopped on a line, the winner would be given some pieces of sweets.
The sweets were like karumeras (sugar cakes like pumice stone made of sugar, baking soda and some water) with the shape of round rice cakes in various sizes. They were colored red, yellow or white. It cost 1 sen (0.01 yen) to participate in the lottery one time. The participants could get prizes with worth of 20 sen (0.2 yen), 10 sen or 5 sen when they won.
The needle rotated on the scale board a few times, and when it slowed down and finally drew near to a line, people around the board shouted for joy and cheered, saying, "Ara! Dokkoi! Dokkoi! (Encouraging shouts)"
Another game which the vendor provided was a lot drawing for the same prizes. Some pieces of black twisted paper strings called mottois (originally called motoyuis), normally used for arranging women's hair, were used in the draw. He held about 30 strings in his left hand and other 20 strings, each of which had a piece of paper with a winning number written on it, in his right hand. In front of the crowd, he mixed them together, saying, "Occho-choi!" before he let people draw them. Some of the people around him would carelessly pick out the strings, thinking that they could surely draw prizes, but they only ended up losing 1 sen each.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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