The coal industry was long at the center of industry in the Karatsu area. The Matsuura River / Kyuragi River region held a treasure trove of coal. The area sustained the energy needs of the country for hundreds of years, from the end of the Edo period to the middle of the Showa period.
It is said that coal was initially discovered by farmers in the Kyoho years
(1716 – 1735) of the middle Edo period at Kishiyamaaza.
The Yoshitani Coal Mine, opened in 1885, was the largest mine in the area at the time, and boasted the best facilities and equipment. At its peak, it employed 2,000 workers and had its own hospitals, schools, theatres, and stores, and stimulated the entire region of Kitahata.
In 1920, the population of Kitahata exceeded 17,000 (Approximately 4,700 today).
The Yoshitani Coal Mine closed its doors in 1933. After the war, energy supplies shifted to oil, and the last of the Kitahata area coal mines closed in July of 1962.