2021/06/16Japan’s First Registration to Memory of the World (MoW) -- YAMAMOTO SAKUBEI’s Historical Coal Mine Paintings
It’s been a decade since “YAMAMOTO SAKUBEI COLLECTION- Historical Coal Mine Paintings” as the first nomination to documentary heritage was submitted by Japan and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2011.
It is stated under http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/ that:
the collection of annotated paintings and diaries of YAMAMOTO SAKUBEI is a personal testimony to the developments during the late Meiji era and into the later twentieth century, when the industrial revolution was still being acted out in the coal mining industry of the Chikuho region, the northern part in Kyushu Island.
The collection combines naive art with text, informed by diaries written during the events being depicted, painted by a man who lived through the events and worked literally at the coal-face.
It is highly unusual in a Japanese context as a private record created by a working man, whereas the dominant records of the period are official government and business papers. The Sakubei paintings have a rawness and immediacy that is totally missing from the official record, and the collection is a totally authentic personal view of a period of great historical significance to the world.
YAMAMOTO SAKUBEI (1892-1984) lived with his family at the coal mines of the Chikuho region in Kyushu from the age of seven, was apprenticed to a pickaxe smith at a mine in 1904 when he was 12, and worked variously as a mine blacksmith and miner until the age of 63 in 1955, when he became a security guard at a mine and started painting his memories, drawing information from his diaries.
He had little formal education, but by the age of 21 in 1913 began keeping notebooks and diaries in which he recorded events. These form part of the collection.