Tagawa City Coal and History Museum 田川市石炭・歴史博物館

I. Chimney

This striking mural, seen from a satellite, is Sekitan Memorial Park 石炭記念公園内, aka Tagawa City Coal Commemorative Park (map).

The actual chimneys depicted in the mural stand just feet away, casting shadows across the mural below. The chimneys are 二本煙突 (nihon entotsu; literally: two chimneys), more fully described as 三井田川炭鉱大煙突 (“Mitsui Tagawa coal mine large chimney”), part of the the 三井田川炭鉱 Mitsui Tagawa coal mine.

The mine was part of the Chikuho coalfield 筑豊炭田 (map), a coal-producing region in northern Kyushu instrumental to Japan’s industrial revolution. The term Chikuho 筑豊 is the combination of 前 Chikuzen and 前 Buzen, two provinces of the old administrative system (the kanji 豊 can be pronounced ‘hu‘ or ‘bu‘ depending on the context).

The two chimneys are prominently displayed on the Tagawa City website:

Tagawa City website Two Smokestacks coal

II. Museum

Next to the smokestacks is the Tagawa City Coal and History Museum 田川市石炭・歴史博物館. The museum has what you would expect: maps, diagrams, artifacts…

Of personal interest is the reproduction of old coal mine housing, known as 炭鉱住宅 Tanko-jutaku, or tan-ja たんじゃ for short (photo). I’ve also seen the term 坑夫納屋, meaning “digger’s barn” or “miner’s shed” (photo), and 鑛夫社宅, which I believe mean’s “coal miner company housing”. Coal miner housing may have influenced Japan’s post-war danchi apartment complexes, but I need to explore this further.

As much as I enjoy these old buildings, let’s not forget the people who lived there and worked in the mines. Coal miners were at the bottom of the economic totem pole, not surprisingly. Let’s read an excerpt from The Stories Clothes Tell: Voices of Working-Class Japan:

Miner working conditions lifestyle Japan

III. Final notes

In an earlier post about the ubiquitous 5 p.m. going-home songs in Japan, I happened to note that Tagawa city has a special Coal mine bell 炭坑節ベル音. See Tagawa City 田川市 Disaster prevention administrative radio 防災行政無線: Coal mine bell sound 炭坑節ベル音 (website; listen to the song).

Details:

  • Tagawa City Coal and History Museum 田川市石炭・歴史博物館
  • 〒825-0002 福岡県田川市大字伊田2734番地1  / Tagawa-shi, Fukuoka-ken
  • Tel:0947-44-5745 / Fax:0947-44-5745
  • E-mail:tchm@lg.city.tagawa.fukuoka.jp
  • Website: English / Japanese
  • Closest station: Tagawaita Station 田川伊田駅 (70-80 minutes from Fukuoka city)

Glossary:

  • 石炭  (sekitan) せきたん = coal
  • 筑豊炭田(ちくほうたんでん) “Chikuho coalfield (Chikuho-tanden)
  • 筑前国 = Chikuzen Province ちくぜんのくに Chikuzen no kuni
  • 豊前国 = Buzen Province ぶぜんのくに Buzen no kuni
  • 鑛夫 = koufu こうふ = miner, digger / 坑夫, pronounced the same, also means ‘miner’
  • The Miner 坑夫 is a novel by Natsume Soseki 夏目漱石 (1908)

Tagawa City Links:

Coal mine housing links:

Advertisements

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s