The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Omens, Superstitions, Taboos

Taboos or Superstitions among Pit Workers (Yamabito) in the Old Days #2
April 1965

Mukashi no Yamabito: Engi/Meishin #2
[Taboos or Superstitions among Pit Workers (Yamabito) in the Old Days #2]
38.1 x 54.4 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

These taboos were secondary ones and not so important at some coal pits. These things were supposedly done by chance when unfortunate accidents or disasters happened, and might have been hated after their meanings were twisted. Needless to say, lives of miners were always threatened with dangers from underground work, which was connected to hell, and that is why coal miners worried very much about trivial things.

1. Singing yokyoku or utai, such as "Niwa no masago wa kin gin no... (The fine sand covering the garden is of gold and silver...)," underground was prohibited.

2. Women could not comb their hair underground.

3. When some family members were working underground, the other family members left did not make stir-fry.

4. Some Sakiyamas (hewers) and Atoyamas (helpers) took soot from the edges of their cooking furnaces with their fingertips and put the soot on their foreheads or between their eyebrows before entering the pit. By doing so, they prayed to Sampo Kojin (the guardian deity of three Buddhist sanctities, the Buddha, law, and samgha; furnace god) for safety during the day.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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