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Kobe, 1900s
Human Conveyor Belt (4)

A very rare view of boats with harbor workers on their way to a steamer at Kobe Harbor, visible in the back. This article looks at how Japanese coaling was done from the workers’ viewpoint.


Nagasaki, 1910s
Human Conveyor Belt (3)

An extremely rare onboard view of Japanese women coaling a US cruiser in Nagasaki. The majority of harbor workers coaling ships in Nagasaki were women. In other ports they also played a crucial role.


Moji 1890s
Human Conveyor Belt (2)

Mounds of coal at Moji Harbor in Kyushu. Two steamers are being coaled in the background. Coal for foreign steamships was a major objective when U.S. warships forced Japan’s borders open in 1855.


Nagasaki 1910s
Human Conveyor Belt (1)

A “human conveyor belt” coaling a steamship in the harbor of Nagasaki. Even mechanized coaling stations could barely coal faster than a Japanese crew. Women were crucial for this feat.


Tokyo, 1920s
Sotobori at Tokyo Station

On this aerial photo of Tokyo Station you can see a waterway above the station. There is no waterway there today. What is this and what happened?

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