The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Yama Visitors

Visitors to the Pit (Yama) in the Meiji Era (1868-1912): Prestidigitation
November 1965

Meiji Yama no Homonsha: Tejina/Karuwaza
[Visitors to the Pit (Yama) in the Meiji Era (1868-1912): Prestidigitation]
38.0 x 54.0 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

The areas with miners' houses called tanjugais were once called kofu nayas (barns for miners). Each of these areas was very crowded with row houses for the workers. This conjurer performed his show at a small space among the houses. He performed tricks using iron rings, connecting and breaking them, tricky smoking with a pipe, spinning plates, and top spinning tricks.
Among his tricks, Japanese sword swallowing was the best. The audience tossed him tips, but most of the audience was children and few of them gave tips to him. However, some pit workers who were careless with money gave him mine tokens of 1 sen (0.01 yen) with a 10-kin mark or more.
1 sho (1.4 kg or more) of polished rice cost as much as 10 sen, but pit workers could afford to tip. So, such conjurers and performers sometimes visited coal pits and entertained children.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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