Identity, Culture and Diversity in Japanese Presence Matahambre Mines, Province Pina ..

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* A mining heritage

* Conclusions

* Bibliography


This article focuses on anthropological research in the community of Minas de Matahambre Pinar del Rio (Cuba), this study is linked to a project called STRATEGY FOR CULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN FUNCTION OF THE RESCUE OF MINING IDENTITY. in which we analyze a process of acculturation, education, conservation and the presence of a Japanese family in the community with 96 years of importance and influence in shaping the mining culture, arrived in the westernmost part of Cuba occupies a space in which quiet and unobtrusive have moved their culture, customs, rituals, beliefs and myths that have been impregnated East within the idiosyncrasies of their traditions mining which has provided a legacy of invaluable historical and cultural value that makes the community of Mines Matahambre possessing a rich cultural heritage different from others in a time for people is so important to know their cultural background.

Our fundamental objective is to provide new and future generations of miners in a study of different ethnicities and cultures that make up our community, planting the seed in young ethnocultural composition of the mining and do not miss this rich history so full of nuances have all the different villages where mining discovers that today have other aspects of the economy is losing that sense of beauty and tradition of mining in general in the towns of large mining training, immigration and emigration are the foreign presence is characteristic of these communities no longer exists ignorance of these cultures and ethnicities that are also part of our history. Minas de Matahambre continue to investigate, find and reclaim our true identity.


To document this work has been used as the basis for the various ethnic research that have shaped the community matahambre Mines.

Ethnic group is a population with a significant enough number of items to consider that its members have an affinity in common language, religion, customs, occupation, class, caste or even a combination.

“There ethnocultural group distinctions that separate ethnic groups and their culture is essentially spiritual value that is present in the beliefs, traditions, customs, language, music and the idiosyncrasies of a particular society in the work culture daily and reveals a regional identity.

Identity-is the set of values, traditions, symbols, beliefs and modes of behavior that operate as a cohesive element within a social group and act as a substrate for the individuals that form the basis for their sense of belonging. Cultural identity is similar to everything our fathers taught us and put it into practice.

Community, is a group or set of individuals, human beings or animals that share common elements, such as language, customs, values, tasks, world view, age, geographic location (a neighborhood for example), social status , roles. Usually in a community creates a common identity through the differentiation of other groups or communities (usually by signs or actions) that is shared and developed among its members and socialized.

Immigration – Arriving in a country of foreign nationals in order to establish himself as permanent residents: the immigration of North Africans in Europe is a constant phenomenon.

[Note: Unlike migration, which involves a shift from voluntary to some extent the foreign country, immigration is often constrained by social or political causes. Furthermore, the first considers the migration from the point of view of origin, and the second from the point of view of fate.]

Rites “is a series of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value, which is prescribed by a religion or traditions of a community. The term “ritual” comes from Latin ritus.Los rituals are performed for various reasons, such as the worship of a god (which would correspond to a religious ritual) or simply to refer to an action that is repeated daily for a long time.

The causes that have helped shape the cultures of humanity as Ratzel and WJ Friendrich Gee I have been closely linked to the geographical environment in the development of the culture of a community, sociologists and anthropologists have made important studies on population density and other social principles that influenced the formation and growth of a community and culture.In Latin America the tradition has been linked to growth and community development.

The natural landscape, geological formations, technologies are the cultural and natural heritage of mining seats.

Like all mining activities in their economic development gives rise to a series of cultural events, migration, formation of settlements, etc..

The name of our town has its origins with the discovery of copper deposits in this area and its development is closely conditioned by the historical evolution of this industry over the past century with 85 years of operation.

Minas de Matahambre-30s

A mining heritage

Matahambre Mine is a village in the northern part of the province of Pinar del Rio, the westernmost province of the island of Cuba, its current population is over 11000 inhabitants which is almost one third of the total population the town that bears his name. There, in a mountainous landscape, where a large population increase timber symmetry there is neither urban nor plain that lets you see the horizon far away, there was until recently the largest copper mine important in the western part of Cuba and became one of the deepest underground mines in Latin America.

A long history of working in the depths of the earth began in 1912 when a farmer found a shiny stone on the slope of an elevation called, hill of the wind.

The samples came into the hands of the mayor of the city of Pinar del Rio Rojas Alfredo Porta and this goes hand high personero Manuel Luciano Diaz government that sends them to a U.S. laboratory which determines its high copper content. This resulted in the February 24, 1913 was officially constituted and Diaz Porta society dedicated to the exploitation of mines in the San Cristobal de Matahambre.

Since 1916, he implanted the benefit mills peaked technological development with the creation of the treatment plant known as the hub function whose start was in 1918 and received the industry as incremental upgrades in the decades of 20 and 30. The copper concentrate Matahambre was recognized for its quality in the international market.

The depth that was reaching the mine through the years also meant growth in the area. To the extent that wove a network of galleries, shafts and contrapozos for mineral extraction, increased housing and the town grew in the difficult geography of the area around industrial plants.

Thus arises the so-called American neighborhood on the characteristics of its architecture, typical of U.S. farms and they lived in the main directors of the emporium. On the other side is an area intended for Cuban workers and employees made up a system of huts (wooden multifamily houses and zinc) also owned by the company, sole owner of the land belonging to the mining reserve. In no case was considered a development project, it was built where the hill slope or permitted.

With this same fate come the streets of the town, with no straight lines, with amazing curves, ups and downs that are now a picturesque nature special and define us as a town different from the rest of those in the province and country.

Mine construction matahambre-First

The population of Minas de Matahambre was very diverse in origin between the discovery of the mine site in 1912 its first owners are faced with the lack of professionals and trained personnel to carry out the mining work.

This problem finds a solution when the first six contract workers of Spanish origin who set a rudimentary camp where they found the first samples of these minerals were responsible for finding the first vein of copper and build the first tunnel or adit where are mined.

From 1913 begins the influx of people from different nationalities, occupying prominent places foremen and engineers who accompanied Russian American, Polish, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish tried to seek his fortune in the bowels of the earth resting on past experiences in their country of origin.

Over the years, farmers and local people are acquiring skills in the mining work and then formed a population that assumes a cultural identity mining continues to this day, represented in particular customs and habits, forms of communication that all ethnic groups have intervened to shape the identity is now deteriorating.

The ethno-cultural phenomenon in the Mines of M community … has been developed based on the combination of various cultures, the intermingling of various ethnic groups from a historical connection of the opening and operation of mining reserve.

Germans, Czechs, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and U.S. for immigration or economic interests, came to our area. Integrate our community today descendants of those who worked on the construction of mining work, manufacturing, services, etc. and were bequeathing their customs training and cultural development of the current community Matahambre Mines.

Foreign presence in the Box Mine mining Matahambre

Silent, scattered and assimilated, a cultural melting pot in a large national pot of Spanish, African, and Chinese, also products of the Japanese acculturation in Cuba is 101 with a low profile, but has left some traces in agriculture and fishing. Collaborating Center for Studies of Asia and Oceania (WAEC) determined by an immigration record of the daily La Marina that the September 9, 1898 Cuba became the first Japanese with plans to settle on the island, to foster a community that came to welcome about 1,000 immigrants Nipponese. According to research by Jose Ramon Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Roque, Japanese Y. Osuna came on that date to Havana on the steamer Orizawa, from Veracruz, Mexico. Other Japanese Osuna followed as part of an immigration phenomenon that occurs in Japan after the Meiji restoration, with particular force to America, and within this to Mexico, Brazil, Peru and Argentina.

Japanese emigration to Cuba, which amounted to a few hundred people, consisted primarily by men, who formed Cuban family, adapted to local diets, as many Japanese cooking ingredients were unobtainable in the island.

This uptake was also exacerbated by the dispersion of immigrants with few exceptions, reached 13 of the 14 current provinces of Cuba. however there were some attempts at grouping. After 1914, Kogawa Fujishiro Producers Association formed a land of sugar mill Constancia ” “, in the province of Cienfuegos and in 1920 several immigrants make up another group to cultivate the earth in the province, while another group heads Isle of Pines, a very fertile island south of Havana.

Today that little piece of land belonging to Cuban territory is called Isla de la Juventud, and it formed the first Japanese agricultural cooperatives that have news in Cuba, and these who introduced the use of chemical fertilizer.

The growing Japanese community had its worst year yet at the stage of World War II, when Japan was halted migration and living in Cuba were detained in concentration camps in the Isle of Pines and La Habana.

According to research, the end of the war and the concentration did not end tensions with Japan, which recently came to an end in 1959 when the revolution of Fidel Castro came to power and normalized relations with Tokyo and was restored emigration lesser extent.

It is at that time establishing fisheries cooperation between the two countries and new immigrants arrive Nipponese, albeit slowly. The current Japanese community in Cuba is just over 1,000 people, according to a census of the Japanese Association of Cologne who runs the Misayasaka Francisco businessman, a Cuban or a descendant of Japanese second-generation Japanese, Of these, only 25 are first-generation immigrants ie, 15 of whom arrived before 1959 and are between 85 and 95 years of age. Another five were established on the island after the triumph of the revolution. Although best known Japanese settlement is the Isle of Pines and most popular is the farmer and his family Mosaku Harada (12 children, 20 grandchildren and great grandchildren, a total of 46 members), Havana is “stronghold of the Japanese Cuba, with 221 people, 22.6% of Japan’s community.

Harada farmer addition, the other Japanese became popular in Cuba was the gardener Kenji Takeuchi, who developed the custom of Soroa orchid, in the province of Pinar del Rio (west), where he cultivated more than 700 species of these flowers.

Minas de Matahambre the presence of the Japanese from 1913, with the opening of the mine and the work of mining work coming into our territory became the first Japanese Uratsuka Takizo Uratsuka, having arrived in Havana from Panama on a ship fishing as a cook, without any knowledge of the trade, was the carpenter who built by hand the first hub for the emerging copper mine, the concentrator become industrial heritage for their invaluable historical value.

Hub made manually by Uratsuka Uratsuka Takizo

Takizo was a man respected for his diligence and persistence in any work that will face its iron discipline in carrying out any activity and also for its discretion. The Japanese for their work receives payment and returns to Japan on his arrival at home country has the potential he had in Cuba to make a fortune and where he lived, the picturesque characteristics of the area … Mine M, mountains and populated mostly by coniferous vegetation, the chances of developing as a carpenter in the forest and the type of wood that was, that he tells his fiancee Masae Taikiamiro Uratsuka with which marriage coming to Mines in 1923, Takizo account in his diary difficult journey they carry out before reaching the mining area.

In 1926 Takizo built a wooden house to be established soon as is typical in mining areas, its traditional Japanese architecture with low ceilings covered with tiles, and with popular underground shelters to protect against known Oriental typhoons, however in Cuba this type of construction allowed them to protect tropical cyclones, there is now incredibly confused that building lying in vegetation while still retained despite its poor construction but their descendants today have been unwilling to change.

His fiancee Masae Yaaimiko her maiden name surname disappears Uratsuca Takizo marry, always waited for the return of his promised return swear by it, even without knowing the needs why would this not the exact location of the planet where he was he, who had gone from the East heading to America, but where had few answers to your questions until the day she returned to her telling her stay in Panama where he was chef and provided other services, where he traveled on the steamer, was the man who took care of several service kitchen, laundry, the steam was but the military never felt passion for military life.

Takizo house built in 1926 and Masae

Born in this house the first descendants of the remains takizo Uratsuka while working in the mining reserve where he became the officer in charge of maintenance and construction.

Japanese marriage 6 children are born pure descendants of Japanese parents, twelve grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

Takizo children and Masae

“Sotero Uratsuka Uratsuka -1927 Died in 2008 at the age of 91

-Peter-1929 Nolasko Uratsuka Uratsuka currently 90 years old

“Adeline Uratsuka-1932 Uratsuka now 81 years old

-Sulima Uratsuka-1930 Uratsuka now 79 years old

-Lidia-1937actualmente Uratsuka Uratsuka 76 years old

-Nile-1939 Uratsuka Uratsuka now 70 years old

From left to right Masae, Peter, Sulima, Adelina, Sotero, Takizo and two officers of a steamer of the Japanese Navy in Cuba.

OSVALDO RODRIGUEZ LORENZO. . . . Lidia Uratsuka Uratsuka

“Children of Lydia Uratsuka Uratsuka.

—- Angel Osvaldo Lorenzo was born in Mines Uratsuka Matahambre obtained Japanese citizenship in 2005, worked at the Japanese embassy as a translator, died in 2008 in Japan, his ashes are at home to fight in Minas de Matahambre.

Uratsuka —- Margarita Maria Lorenzo currently lives in Japan two years ago. Mine visit regularly.

Of the children of these descendants only two returned to Japan the children of Lydia. Uratzuka Angel Osvaldo Lorenzo and his sister Margarita Lorenzo Uratzuka currently residing in Japan for 2 years.

At this corner we saw the eternal Asian oriental ritual as usual, found the ashes of the young Osvaldo placed in a glass case accompanied by photos, flowers, incense giving sensual touch to the dim room where your items personal in the light of the traditional chandelier, decorated with chinoiserie figures gave the impression of being in the land of rising sun

Angel Osvaldo Lorenzo remains Uratsuka

Lidia current home Uratsuka

Typical Japanese Candlestick

Pedro Nolasco Uratsuka Uratsuka

Children of Peter Nolasco Uratsuka Uratsuka.

— Juan Alejandro Morejon Uratsuka currently resides in Pinar del Rio has two children and Yaimel Yaidelis Uratsuka Uratsuka Rodriguez Rodriguez.

Japanese descent as well Peter learns empirically dissimilar stove repair work, umbrellas, do carpentry, masonry and others, its longevity is not preventing him from completing any work still gets up very early and goes without exhausting much of the geography of good mining always smiling character greets everyone who is in its path.

Uratsuka Uratsuka Nile

Son of the Nile Uratsuka Uratsuka

— Nile Uratsuka Carrasco

Nile also worked in the mining empire in the brigade learned empirically some maintenance work, then was advised by Korean technicians, played baseball for mines in the representative team in the western capital, the mine closed in 1997 parade May Day in costumes representing the miners.

Since then and until now works as chief of maintenance and assembly deltaller the UEB Municipal Water and Sewerage Mines.

Casino games at the back hub belonging to the mine where he worked after Nile near the home of the Uratzuka.

Children of Adelina Uratsuka Uratsuka.

— Martha Rosa Rodriguez Uratsuka.

Zotero children Uratsuka Uratsuka.

— Katira Uratsuka Carmen Gonzalez has two children and Maira Perez Carlos Perez Uratsuka Uratsuka.

Masae — Uratsuka Gonzalez currently residing in the U.S..

Uratsuka Uratsuka Sulima children.

— No known descendants.

During World War II and his wife Takizo Uratzuka Masae are arrested and taken to the Isle of Pines along with other Japanese there disappeared several diseases such as tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, and dissimilar virus epidemics caused by overcrowding and poor conditions in which they were gathered, as discussed above. Masae is released because he was nursing mother to her young son Nile. During this period of confinement Takizo a diary that tells the horrors in Isla de Pinos daily supplies of food and personal hygiene, the entry of inspectors government, met with other fellow who befriended were marked as beasts and take his experiences today as a reference. After Takizo manufactures a hub in the East in a copper deposit, together with fellow foreign resident in Minas de Matahambre and Humberto Aulizzio Brazilian origin.

In 1959 under his leadership Takizo has 12 employees engaged in carpentry at the copper mine area and in the manufacture of wood and woodworking pieces that are needed, all manufactured.

In 1968 he built another hub in La Mina Las Mercedes Guane located between Mantua and in a place called Rio Frio. Testimony of his son Pedro Nolasco Uratzuca Uratzuca, who spontaneously offered its cooperation interviews and family photos so that our town is aware that there are different ethnic groups including the Eastern culture that now form part of this community with the closure of Mine have lost our fundamental economic line and our identity as miners The house where this descendant is in the side of a mountain from where the 1913 live from the descendants of this family who have kept their traditions and oriental culture which is now also part of the cultural diversity of our community.

Ruins from the hub manufactured by Takizo Uratsuka

Document ID

Takizo Uratsuka as a member of

Mine Workers Union

Left Takizo Uratsuka in the Japanese embassy in Cuba.

Takizo left in a photo studio in Havana.

Second row from left to right the fourth Takizo with the board of the Portas-Diaz Mining Company. In the year 1938.

Although the generation of pure Japanese descent did not know directly the land of the rising sun is felt in them the longing to know the distant dollars, knowing their parents’ traditions, customs, industry, rail, discipline, persistence, etc and there we see small people and slanted eyes surrounded by greenery clinging to keep their autonomy intact.


We conclude that the results of this research have shown us that our community and fundamentally new generations know ethnocultural wealth with which we, Mine is one of the privileged municipalities in the immigration of Haitians, Chinese, Spanish, Americans, Germans, Czechs Brazilian and Japanese all these ethnic groups have been part of the identity of the mineral since its formation and today are part of our culture and values bequeathed to future generations.


* Batista. Carlos Sep.1998 .– The Japanese in Cuba.

* Guzman. Martha Alvarez. Rolando .– Japanese in Cuba.

* Mendez. Castro. Palmira. Concept of identity. Volume I

* Clemson. Robins.Defendiendo national identity.

* Sociology of Culture. Reading selection.

– Bernard Tonnies. Ferdinand. Community and Society – 1987.

* Social Anthropology. Reading selection.

. Bambino. Lopez. Louis. Ethical Culture and Society.


-Articles met the Japanese 101 years in Cuba’s Emilio Chicawa. ‘

– Photos from Municipal Museum Archives Mines and Uratsuka family.