The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Disasters and Lynchings

Work at San-nai Coal Pit after the Constriction of its Coal Bed by Rock Pressure
May 1967

San-nai Tanko de no Juatsu ni yoru Sagyo
[Work at San-nai Coal Pit after the Constriction of its Coal Bed by Rock Pressure]
37.8 x 53.6 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Text at the Bottom Right
San-nai Coal Pit was opened in 1896 at the west foot of Kasamatsu-toge Pass and closed in 1910. This pit had the shakunashi-so coal bed which was initially 45 to 60 centimeters thick. The coal bed was later crushed and compacted by rock pressure and became about two thirds as thick as it was before. The coal in this bed also became so soft that miners could mine it without using pickaxes. This painting shows one of the old level-side workings where coal pillars (ryuzu) are being removed.
According to the old pillar system of coal mining, in which a lot of coal pillars were left behind in a latticed pattern after mining coal, there was no hope of finding new deposits (aratoko kiriha) when the closing of the pit neared. Therefore, a group of four miners composed of two pairs of a hewer and a helper or more pairs of miners removed the coal pillars.
The roofs of the workings were too low for them to use coal sleds (sura) or shouldering pole and coal baskets (sena). They slid down bamboo winnows (ebi) filled with coal on two parallel bamboo poles as rails. Helpers (atoyama) loaded mine cars with the coal. Four-blade rakes (ganzume) were normally used to scrape coal toward winnows at that time, but they were useless at these workings. So, hewers scraped coal and put it in bamboo winnows with a piece of wood.
In this case, hewers could not raise their heads or have time to breathe. This pit was located in the east of today's Iizuka City around 1906.

Text at the Bottom Left
Each coal pillar in small-scale coal pits was so thin that the area of its cross section was smaller than 40 square meters. The pair of parallel bamboo poles was called a take surase.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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