The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Yama Living

Runaway Miners: Miners Called Hagama Kofus Who Repeatedly Moved from Pit to Pit
June 1965

Ketsuwari: Shiri no Suwaranu Hagama Kofu
[Runaway Miners: Miners Called Hagama Kofus Who Repeatedly Moved from Pit to Pit]
38.0 x 53.7 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Miners called hagama kofus who moved from pit to pit in a short time without paying their debts were also called ketsuwari kofus. Some of them were frequent repeaters, and runaway miners were many in number in coal pits in the past. Such miners ran away from their pits when they were up to the ears in debts from their mine owners or miner group bosses. Unmarried workers ran away even in the daytime. However, married men or women could not easily do so, though they had little baggage. Those who ran away from their pits were dishonest and lazy miners called sukaburas and expert miners never left their pits without permission. The latter openly left their pits after paying their debts by applying the advance payments (katairegin), which they borrowed from the pits to which they were moving, to the debts.
In addition, a lot of male miners ran away because they committed adultery with married women. They were especially severely tortured if they were caught by personnel bosses (torishimari).
Many young lovers among miners also ran off together. However, even personnel bosses did not torture them because these couples had their parents in the same pits. The acquaintances of these couples sought them out and took them back to their pits to have them marry.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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