SurReal History: Japanese Fart Scrolls?!?!

I came across this article earlier in the day and it gave me such a great laugh and lightened the ever-present mid-week grumbles and grouchiness that I simply had to share it with you all.

Now I’m all for intellectual growth, but funny is funny and people often take life to seriously for my liking! This find is one of the funniest and best things I’ve seen in a while because it shows two things:

  1. Some things never change and there are always people who just simply like a good laugh and,
  2. Visual art and or sequential imagery (like in comics for example.. he subtly added in..) has not only been around for ages but has yet again shown its versatility and cross-genre usage and appeal.

And so, I leave you now to this most original and (for me at least) amusing post that I think will give you a chuckle as well, assuming you have a flexible enough sense of humour – and once more, the original hard work of putting this all together and all that is taken from THIS POST over at Tofugu.


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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