There were no fish stores in the collieries located inland, and instead, fish merchants visited these mines to sell fish.
Because it was around 1900 there was no technology for freezing fish, and transportation took a certain amount of time.
Thus, fish were sold only salted or dried during the summer time.
Illustrated in this painting is the fish merchant, Matsu-san.
The strong smelly salted whale meat he sold was so famous that miners expressed anything that had a strong smell with the phrase, “It stinks like Matsu-san’s whale.”
Despite of the smell, this meat was cheap so it sold quite well.