The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Transport (inside the mine)

Underground Pony Used since the Mid-Meiji Era (1868-1912)
1964 - 1967

Meiji Chuki yori Konaiba
[Underground Pony Used since the Mid-Meiji Era (1868-1912)]
38.2 x 54.4 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

This picture shows a pony working at a coal mine in the mid-Meiji era. In the old days, slopes in small and middle-scale coal mines were not deeply driven because of the difficulty in drainage. Instead, they were horizontally driven and inclined gently. The length of levels became very long. When they were driven more than 200 meters long, miners used ponies to bring the coal out. From the pit with short slopes, coal was transported to the surface by ponies every day at sunset. However, coal was not brought out for about a week from a pit with deeply-driven slopes, so ponies had to stay underground during the week. When the ponies went up to the surface after a long time, they felt free and pranced in glee.
Ponies used at coal mines were short and strong. They were given a lot of water, and their bellies were swollen up. Not only in the Meiji era but in the beginning of the Showa era (1926-1989), some coal mines used ponies to transport coal. They could tow five mine cars loaded with 2.5 to 3 tons of coal at a time.

During the Taisho era (1912-1926), the use of electricity started in pits. When electric leakages happened, ponies got electric shocks more keenly than miners did. Their horseshoes might have been the reason why. Ponies would fall down even when miners did not feel a shock.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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