The Tankou-bushi tune, which is a popular dance at many summer festivals all over Japan, laments the hard days and nights of people in a small mining town. The movements of the slow, walking-style dance copy the way coal is dug out of the mine and thrown on cars in the mine shafts. Well, kind of. As with any dance, it looks a lot better than that!
Here is a Youtube video from an event this summer in Hayama, where 佐野 真澄 （Gacya） leads her ensemble (complete with a trombone) and the crowd just can't stop dancing on the beach.
Can it be more "Summertime in Japan" than this?
The Sunday, September 2 show in Nippori will start at 12:30 and continue into the late evening. Other stars are singer Haruka as well as Haru and Yossy (who stems from Saitama, from Morning Musume), as well as the Arakawa kids taiko troupe... Lots of local Fukuoka delicacies will be on sale.
Tsuki ga deta deta
Tsuki ga deta, a yoi-yoi
Mitsui Tankō no ue ni deta
Anmari entotsu ga takai no de
Sazoya otsukisan kemutakaro
Sa no yoi yoi
The moon, has come out, come out, Oh, the moon is out, yoi-yoi Over Mitsui Coal Mine hath the moon come out. The chimney is so high, I wonder if the moon chokes on the smoke... Yoi-yoi!
According to Wikipedia, "Modern arrangements of Tankō Bushi replace the lyric "Mitsui Tankō" mitsui Mine with "uchi no oyama," which in traditional mining dialect means "our coal mine" or "our coal pit," as Mitsui Mine is no longer in service, and the song is played at Bon dances outside of Kyūshū."
Tagawa, Okawa and Omuta towns are part of a region with many old coal mines with much history, if you are into that sort of thing. Kojo moe (工場萌え, factory infatuation) is what Spike Japan calls it in his post about the abandoned coal mines on Ikeshima, Nagasaki prefecture, in Kyushu.
Spike Japan: Goodbye to old king coal
“Goodbye King Coal, you venal tyrant,” I thought to myself, “and good riddance. It’s good you’re gone, gone at last from these lands at least, gone with your lives cut short by dust blast and black lung, gone with your weeping widows, gone with your fatherless children. And goodbye to you, too, Ikeshima: may your dreams of ruin come true, may you rust in peace.”
Since 2002, coal production has almost come to a halt in Japan, as the last large mine closed in Kushiro, Hokkaido. The Ishikari coal field is still in operation, and aging equipment at thermal plants is troubling Hokkaido Electric and local mine operators, especially the No. 1 unit at the Naie plant that was built in 1968, according to The Japan Times: Nuke crisis a boon for struggling coal mines.
Most of Japan's coal is imported from Australia. The industry, of course, tries to promote "Clean Coal" as it is well known that this energy source is incredibly polluting and a major cause of climate change. Japan Coal Energy Center has all kinds of seminars and experts discussing Clean Coal. All the choices (pdf) has more.
Japan had 2009 coal consumption of 108.78 million tonnes oil equivalent, 3.31% of the world total. Japan is the world's fourth largest consumer of coal after China, the USA and India.
Japan has estimated small coal reserves of 396 million short tons. Japan ceased coal production in January 2002 with the closure of its last operating coal mine at Kushiro, on the northern island of Hokkaido. Japan is the largest single coal importing nation, with the country's demand for both thermal and metallurgical coal being one of the major drivers of the Asia Pacific coal trade. The country used to produce its own indigenous coal. Today, however, the electricity generating units in near-coastal locations have become dependent on imported coal.