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Japanese Fart Scrolls

February 19, 2012

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.

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

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