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Women at Coal Pits in the Old Days #7: The Thinnest Coal Bed
1958 - 1963

Mukashi Yama no Onna #7: Mottomo Teisotan
[Women at Coal Pits in the Old Days #7: The Thinnest Coal Bed]
20.6 x 29.0 cm Ink Painting

It was very hard for a woman carrier to bring out coal from one of the thinnest coal beds. The clearance between the top of her coal sled (sura) and the roof was about 15 centimeters (5 sun). Such a thin coal bed was called a "shakunashi," and was 50 centimeters (1 shaku 6 sun) to 60 centimeters (2 shaku) thick. Its bottom rock was very hard, and so only roofs of haulage ways were cut and heightened. However, it was also difficult to cut them, so miners were troubled by the rapid expansion of the coalfaces. Today separating debris is easily done with improved coal washers. However, miners in the old days mined only selected masses of coal from good coal beds (honsu) without including the rock layers, and they left coal seams with rock layers in roofs and bottoms untouched.

Lyrics of "Gotton Bushi" at the Top left
Dose kono yama shikai to miete,
nobori hon-kairo ni koro ga nai.

It seems that this pit will be shut sooner or later,
because no wooden ladders are laid in the main ascending haulage way.
Gotton (Clang)! (Interjected chant)

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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