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Mining at a Goshaku-so Coalface
1958 - 1963

Goshaku-so no Saitan
[Mining at a Goshaku-so Coalface]
21.4 x 29.9 cm Ink Painting

A coal bed 5 shaku (150 cm) or more thick was called a kosotan (thick coal bed). When the hewer cut the bed, he first undercut the softest part of the coalface in the center as deep as possible and hacked away the bottom before hacking down the top.
Inexperienced sakiyamas (hewers) cut coalfaces evenly like the bottom of a storage pit for sweet potatoes, and these coalfaces became too hard to cut. Since experts cut coalfaces squarely along their cross grain, these coalfaces became soft and easy to cut. There were great differences in the results of the mining done by experts and inexperienced miners. The former produced more coal through lighter work than the latter.
Mining coalfaces evenly was called tsuradori (coalface peeling), and this method was good for mining soft coal. However, it was not efficient at all when mining single coalfaces of aratokos (new deposits) in the past.
In short, hewers had to undercut the new deposit or cut through one side of it before hacking up the rest (oikomi-bori).

Lyrics of "Gotton Bushi" Song
Tsuru wa kanko zuru sakiyama nenki.
Atomukya terezo de ishya deranu.

The pickax is dull, the sakiyama (hewer) using it is young and green,
and his atomuki (helper) is tactless, so they won't mine much coal.
Gotton (Clang)! (Interjected chant)

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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