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

A Yoke and a Pair of Baskets (Sena) Used in the Badger-Hole Method of Mining (Tanukibori) in the First Half and Middle of the Meiji Era (1868-1912)
1964 - 1967

Meiji Kami-chuki Sena: Tanukibori
[A Yoke and a Pair of Baskets (Sena) Used in the Badger-Hole Method of Mining (Tanukibori) in the First Half and Middle of the Meiji Era (1868-1912)]
38.1 x 54.2 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Text at the Bottom Right
This painting shows one of the most primitive coal conveying methods using the outfit of a yoke and a pair of baskets. This method of coal conveyance was very hard for women carriers (atoyama) because haulage ways from coalfaces to the surface were long. A carrier could carry 100 kin or less (about 50 kg) of coal at best with this outfit. It was a feat which only strong-hearted women could do.

Text at the Bottom Center
A few large bamboo baskets (bara) were put on the ground near the pit mouth. They had no bottoms and could contain about a half ton of coal each. When the baskets were filled up, they were pulled up and removed. Each carrier conveyed about 2 tons of coal, enough to fill 5 or 6 baras a day. Mining wages for a bara-load of coal at such a coal pit were 30 to 40 sen (0.4 yen) and a little higher than wages for a mine-car-load of coal at other small and middle-scale coal pits. Each carrier needed a hand-gun-shaped wooden stick about 15 centimeters long (longer sticks were useless) when using a yoke and baskets. The yoke was about 130 centimeters long. A carrier could not move forward if he/she did not tilt the front basket hanging from the yoke. Additionally, it was hard for carriers to convey coal with the yoke without wearing clothes. Even if they used the yoke with their clothes on, they got calluses on their waists.
The two carriers in this painting are not husband and wife, but both are atoyamas.

Lyrics of "Gotton Bushi" Song
Oroshizoko kara hyakkin kago ninote,
tsuya de kuru sama 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)

Lettering on the Talisman on the Frame of Pit Mouth
Oyamatsumi-no-mikoto: Great Mountain God

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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