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!

  • nupath

     lovely it ! 素晴らしい :-)

  • Silverwilli

    Stop wasting your time then

  • Chantal Danielson

    Alright, as a staff member of a University Library, I feel I need to comment. If someone had ordered articles on these scrolls, I would have read them before giving them to the student. And then I would have demanded the student share more of his research with me — because this is hilarious. 

    Moral of the story: Don’t let your fear of the opinion of staff in the library stop your enlightenment for fart scrolls. Seriously. 

  • Cat

    Just wanted to drop by and say that I’m jealous of you living in Otaru. It’s such a beautiful place!

  • http://anansisweb.wordpress.com/ Akshay Dhar

     Brilliant! :D
    I’m all for intellectual growth but funny is funny and people often take life to seriously – this is a great find and one I’m going to share on my own blog if you don’t mind.
    Cheers and thanks for sharing!

  • http://seisohime.net/ 華 ♡ Hana

    Windy the Pooh?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=563798941 Ivonne Carley

    I. AM. DYING. hilarious!!!!!

  • Greenlantern851

    Oh GAWD! That’s a real gas!

  • Kim

    I’m a Uk person now living in Japan. I barely fart after eating Japanese food. Only after drinking beer, actually.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=527909073 Richard Finneran

    gives new meaning to “Divine wind”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aubrey-Matthew-Smith-IV/100000702680629 Aubrey Matthew Smith IV

    hahahahahaha farts
     

  • criminology

    I think it’s less about offending readers’ sensibilities than being required to censor genitals by Japanese law…

  • http://twitter.com/NeriRodriguez Neri Rodriguez

    Wow, some day I found a website about “smelly poop”, but this is totally new…

  • halfbeing

    If you want to get serious about understanding why farts are funny you could do a lot worse than get acquainted with “Rabelais and his World” by Mikhail Bakhtin who was a professor of French literature working in Moscow during the Stalin era. To put it very simply, farting keeps it real.

  • http://twitter.com/shollum Shollum

    I think it’s kind of like National Geographic or old art; it doesn’t matter that they’re naked.

    This was clearly done by Hashi, especially seeing as the images in the video aren’t censored.

  • Carlosbeltranishere

    They’re Japanese. There is nothing to censor.

  • Mwm
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000493076087 Monsta Ward

    Blah blah blah…

  • Anonz

    What’s with the censor bars? What a cop out.

  • DBAGZ

     WTF does this have to do with Japanese law? They weren’t made yesterday goofass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=656127943 Bubbles Campbell

    Why bleep out the ancient cartoon genitalia? That’s pretty retarded.

  • ThatOneGirlYouKnow

    O_o What the hell? Well…Uh…That’s interesting…

  • Essiecoo

    The USA’s Ben Franklin wrote a wonderful allegory for Freedom of Speech titles “Fart Proudly” which concluded: “Fart for Liberty, Fart for Freedom, most of all Fart Proudly”. GWB expelled flatulence every time he spoke.

  • Niogard915

    I recall reading Clavell’s SHOGUN where, in one scene, the 16th Century Japanese war lord “cut the cheese” and explained to his Englishman visitor that was one of his great pleasures. The author seemed very knowledgeable about the culture

  • Cataphract

    I am floored. But if you needed any further proof as to where the Japanese of today get their unusual predilections, here you go. Sort of like the octopus tentacle rape ones someone found from the 19th century. Modern anime didn’t invent it.

  • Napchop

     A German once told me that the thing he most admired about the English was their fart jokes, he claimed that nothing in German humor could match them. Do Germans have humor? :-/

  • Jimmy

     really?…

  • Knickygill

    This was the greatest video ever made….thank you, thank you for showing me truth about aliens.
     

  • jcm manuel

    I’ve  come to understand from the video that farts are *sophisticated* and also *a technology*. I think they are also saying farts can empower an alien spacecraft, and that the Japanese people were genetically modified to produce explosive (amounts of) farts. Makes my day.

  • Laurne59

    This IS funny! But it just illustrates a basic truth about the human male: He is obsessed with toilet humor, and always has been when – and wherever he lived! I expect, an day now, for some archaeologist to announce the discovery of “Caveman fart” art!…found painted on the wall of an ancient dig….

  • Farts Advocate

    FAAAAAAARTZ

  • Journeymanjim

    yes but the pictures were only put online recently and since the original uploaders were probably in Japan they would have to comply with those censoring laws.

  • bogwart

    It is illegal in Japan to show pubic hair, whether it’s in a film or published as one of the graphic arts.

  • Destraa

    It would appear that our sense of humour really hasn’t evolved much since ancient times.

  • Grldn Kly

    you’re not a funny troll.

  • Riot

    Great, bring up the Germans in a discussion on gas.

  • Lady Montague

     Yes, but German humor is very dull. Nothing like British humor!

  • Lady Montague

    That’s hilarious. I love the video!

  • Blondbs

    Extra-extra-ordinary.  So glad you found this and are enlightening the world.  Interesting how there are very few boundaries for the Japanese – even though their outward appearance to the world is so regimented and seemingly conservative!

  • Bored

    “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.” lazy, I’m sure your librarian really doesn’t give a shit. otherwise, interesting post!

  • dewflirt

    This is very special. Has seti seen this yet? 

  • Justin Kolata

    WTF?

    what the fart?

  • http://www.facebook.com/freesilver Silver Persinger

    No mention of the guy in the red hat wearing clothes with marijuana leaves on them in the third panel?

    http://archive.wul.waseda.ac.jp/kosho/chi04/chi04_01029/chi04_01029_p0002.jpg

  • Edohiguma

    The interesting thing is that these woodprints seem to depict the ruling class. Check the headgear. That hat is a classic sengoku period headgear worn by people of higher rank. It was also worn under helmets. The women depicted have long, open hair, something only women of higher class had prior to the Edo period (it was in use at the imperial court and in the high echolon of the Tokugawa family during the Edo period as well), since they didn’t work and thus the hair wouldn’t get in their way. I think this is one of the early comical attacks on Japan’s leaders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chessydeb Debi Smith

    Love the rendition of grey/black gas! And you don’t often see characters laughing so gleefully in Uki-Oye. I have heard tho’ that inter-village farting contests have been going on a long time in Japan and that even TV shows have featured “musicians” playing their wind instrument to the rollicking amusement of the Japanese audiences

  • YGASG

    Todays wtf moment..

  • Zip Collins

    imho those black oblongs are the oddest thing in this whole section…

  • Whatever

    yep

  • http://halebobb.com/Debate.htm The Federal Farmer

    :29 While combing the archives for what??

  • http://twitter.com/shollum Shollum

    Nope. Hair is fine, genitals aren’t.