Japanese Fart Scrolls

I was doing research for another post a while back, and found something a bit…unusual. It was an old Japanese scroll about farting.

No, you didn’t misread that last sentence. The whole scroll, which is called He-Gassen (“The Fart Battle”) is just about people farting. Farting at other people, farting at cats, farting off of horses, farting into bags; just farting everywhere.

Why? I couldn’t really tell you. I’ve tried to do some research but, believe it or not, academic literature on Japanese farting is surprisingly few and far between.

I found some relevant articles on my old university’s academic databases, but the only way I could obtain them would be to request them printed out and go pick them up. Which, you know, isn’t something I really want to do.

I can only imagine what it would be like if I went back to school to pick up my fart literature:

“Hi, how can we help you?”

“I’m here to pick up some articles I put on hold.”

“Sure, what are they about?”

“Well, they’re, um, about farting.”


I did find out enough to know that this isn’t the only farting scroll out there in existence – in fact, in the 90s, a collection of fart scrolls sold for $1,500 at the famous Christie’s auction house. I am not making this up.

I also found out that the famous uikyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi also dabbled in fart art, painting a piece depicting dudes farting at each other.

Perhaps the greatest piece of this farting scroll is a giant panorama of four dudes farting into a building, and the chaos ensuing within. Click on the picture below for the full-sized version because really, it’s not something you wanna miss out on.

In the end, I think I tried to read too far into this. I kept expecting to find some deep cultural explanation as to why these guys made whole scrolls about farting. But I think it really just boils down to one universal truth: farts are funny.

We can pretend that our senses of humor are more sophisticated than that, but let’s face it: when somebody lets one rip, you’re going to chuckle.

And, as if this wasn’t enough, we made a video for this too. Conspiracy? Maybe. Aliens? Definitely.

(Originally found on Naruhodo. You can find the rest of the fart scroll, in its entirety, on Waseda University’s website here.)

Saturday Timewaster is a weekly post that features Japanese videos, music, images, or games that will certainly waste your time (some weeks more than others). We hope you enjoy!

  • http://twitter.com/shollum Shollum

    Judging by the fact that the video isn’t censored, I doubt the pictures were censored before ended up in this article.

    Old art has never had to be censored. Anywhere (as far as I can tell).

  • (・∀・)

    Visual bleeps are the best, yo.

  • Ghostworks Design

    busy man

  • Rop

    That was gay and more like animals I guess

  • Bobboo

    Tokyo Drift.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000126289159 Carin TurboLeopard Hua

    In honor of my friend’s words: THIS IS REAL? FUCK THIS WORLD

  • cptderp

     Someone knows his japanese porn! ^^

  • Stablo

    “the only way I could obtain them would be to request them printed out and go pick them up. Which, you know, isn’t something I really want to do.”
    Are you twelve?There are lots of papers about human behaviors, art, pathologies and so on. Would they be written if scientists got blushed while asking for the evidence in the libraries?
    Work on your confidence, try something crazy, buy condoms in local shop, not on the internet, I’ll keep motivating you.

  • Noel

    this made my day.

  • anon

    I did nazi that coming.

  • Burhnas Stefvanslof

    I would like an OBAMA stimulus program for a green energy project that would employee million Americans. Free Food for all Americans and they only have to insert a fart collection tube in their ass. This would be a perfect program – everyone would have food, everyone would be employed, and the energy problems of this county would be solved It is perfect for most Americans also – they could have a job where they could just sit, watch TV, eat and fart.

  • FF

    Yes, fart jokes are always a hit. Even better when they’re old. What’s the deal with the vid?Fabulous japanese art followed by a sophomoric attempt to top the classic humour and sophistication. What a classically american piece of ill prepared student work. The video is not funny. Maybe you need to see some funny. Try watching television or something.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nga.vuthikieu.7 Nga Vũ Thị Kiều

    the passing gas can cause bad gas in the environment, hahahah!!!
    this is love naked in that picture!!!

  • butdickdickbut

    Well poop. I thought this was real. Then the mustache and last name got me. Le fu.

  • Talia

    Nice to know that over the centuries, men and their fascination with orifices hasn’t altered one bit.

  • Leif Kvarnes

    ann frankly, I find that offensive.

  • Mami


  • David

    A teacher in an Asian art class explained to me that the fart scrolls initially were a social commentary on politics at the time. The intent was to make fun of high ranking officials or whomever was in political power at those times, comparing their long-winded debates to a farting war. I think after that the idea was too funny and they just ran with it. I don’t know if this is accurate, though…

  • sherry

    you guys are cracking me up at 3:22 am

  • Eldicko Lacy

    I’m speechless,funniest thing I’ve seen in months. I especially like farting a hole in the door.

  • anon

    It is a little out of mein kampfort zone, as well.

  • lulu

    hhahhaa! great stuff :D

  • gotham77

    I like the one where they’re using fans to blow the farts back at the farters.

  • S9y

    We Germans say the same about you, you know.

  • Oh4cke

    Imo the author went too fart with this article

  • AGermanGuyPassingBy

    Well, we germans have humor, i think it is not the same like yours but sometime it is amazing.
    Also u should know that u have to speak and understand german clearly to understand our jokes that is the worst thing about our humor ;)

  • Skeptical

    Amazing that these ancient scrolls are in such pristine condition, and that someone just happened to discover them a year or so ago, and that there’s no writing on them whatsoever to explain them, nor the artist’s stamp or calligraphy at the corner. Very impressive shading, too, for such ancient scrolls, and curious that so many of the ink spots tend to repeat themselves.

    A truly impressive discovery.

  • Susy Crandall

    I don’t understand the need to cover certain things up with little black rectangles. It’s ridiculous. We’re all grown-ups here.

  • Polly Plectron

    Fine art of fart. Oh Joy!

  • adanos

    Yep, here I am, right “after” replying to a comment on another page in which some1 stated that germans drink beer for breakfast. In fact, after your next mishap, think about us germans and our magical abilities that made it possible. Oh, and dont forget to make a picture from your face after that and pusblish it. Do I see a meme coming? ^^

  • ilangelo

    Yeah, I speak German fluently. Your level of humor is that of four-year-olds in most societies.

  • disqus_9K7Pl9V1kX

    For some reason the whole scatology thing, including humor, is definitely part of the gender divide. I think I have a pretty good sense of humor (making and taking jokes) and fart jokes just seem juvenile to me.

    Little boy humor – which for some reason, most males never outgrow. Nothing wrong with them, just – “meh”!?

    (Does this mean women aren/t human?)

  • farts-are-funny

    i am female and i find farts funny.

  • disqus_9K7Pl9V1kX

    I speak fluent German – at least I used to (lived in Berlin) – in addition to several other languages, and I must say I don’t think there’s another language with more words for shit! Not to mention the compounds with Scheiss!

    These things DO reveal things about a people’s inner workings.
    Nothing dire, just an observation.