The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Yama Living

Pit Workers' Row Houses, Naya in the Meiji Era (1868-1912)
August 1965

Meiji Jidai Kofu no Jutaku Naya
[Pit Workers' Row Houses, Naya in the Meiji Era (1868-1912)]
38.0 x 53.9 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

1. K Coal Pit run by Mr. Takichi Aso had 10 ridges of row houses called nayas (barns). This kind of house was not only used in pits run by him. The house was 9 shaku (about 2.7 m) wide and 2 ken (about 3.6 m) long and had a room of 4 and a half tatami mats (thick straw mats), no cupboard, no ceiling, and no kitchen. The row houses were divided by earthen walls of about 2 meters in height and the floors under their mats were made of cut bamboo weaved with ropes. The mats had such coarse covers that small grains of beans fell through them and they had no edge tape. The roofs were shingled or thatched. (The shingles were called hegis.)

Text in the Inset 1
A Row House in Pits Run by Mr. Aso and Other Companies
Some houses were separated and one row out of twenty rows of houses had houses with a 6-tatami room in which senior pit workers lived. Large families with more than three workers were allotted houses for two families with 3 tatami mats and 6 tatami mats. Their roofs were thatched or shingled.

Words in the Inset 1
doma: earth floor
yojohan: room of 4 and a half tatami mats
tobira: door
renji mado: lattice window

2. Mitsui Yamano Coal Pit had separated houses with a room of 4 and a half tatami mats, a cupboard of 4 shaku (120 cm) and 5 sun (15 cm) wide, and an earth floor a little larger than those of K Coal Pit. (These were better ones.)

Text in the Inset 2
A Row House in Pits Run by the Mitsui Mining Company
The naya in pits run by an industrial conglomerate Mitsui also had a room of 4 and a half tatami mats, and a small cupboard. Most of their roofs were tiled.

Words in the Inset 1
oshiire: cupboard
toguchi: doorway

3. Mitsubishi Kamoo Coal Pit had row houses with a 6-tatami room, a cupboard of 6 shaku (1.8 m) wide, and a large earth floor. All facilities including miners' houses in this Mitsubishi coal pit were well-cleaned and kept sanitary. I could not imagine that this pit at that time actually had Korean miners.

Text in the Inset 3
A Row House in Pits Run by the Mitsubishi & Co., Ltd.
The house had a 6-tatami room, a cupboard 3 shaku (about 90 cm) deep and 6 shaku (about 180 cm) wide and a tiled roof.

Words in the Inset 3
oshiire: cupboard
iriguchi: entrance

4. Yahata Ironworks Futase Branch Central Coal Pit had more improved nayas or row houses than the above pits because this pit was the newest one opened in 1910. However, their nayas were rather narrow for such a well-funded pit.
(Even a large-scale coal pit like Sumitomo Tadakuma Coal Pit had only houses with a 4-and-a-half-tatami room or a 6-tatami room and some of their roofs were thatched. However, I think that Mr. Aso [the former owner of the pit] built some of the above houses before 1894.)

Text in the Inset 4
A Row House in Pits Run by a Mining Company Which Merged with the Japan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. (Nittetsu) [Translator's Notes: Yahata Ironworks founded in 1901 had some pits in the Chikuho region and was privatized and merged to the above company in 1934.]
The house had a 4-and-a-half-tatami room and a 3-tatami room with a cupboard shared with the next-door neighbor split between the top and bottom. It had a ceiling, and its roof was tiled. The roof of its kitchen was sheathed with zinc. Some houses for part-time workers had a 6-tatami room and a shingled roof.
The entrances of two different houses stood side by side and the situation caused many complicated quarrels between two neighboring families, because they had to live like one big family.

Words in the Inset 4
to: door
iriguchi: entrance
suijiba: kitchen

Text at the Bottom Left
Senryu (Seventeen-syllabled Comical Poems)
1. Ki no eda ga odoreba yama no yane ga tobi.

Shingles on the houses in the pit fly up when the twigs of trees dance in the wind.

2. Takitsuke ni naru to kodomo wa hashiri yoru.

Children run to the falling shingles to gather and use them as kindling.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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