Amazing Images of Classic Japanese Fart Battles

Shaunacy Ferro
Waseda University
Waseda University / Waseda University

Fart humor is timeless. Arabian Nights features a tale called “The Historic Fart.” , a political satire often attributed to the Roman writer Seneca, includes the following gassy passage: “When he had made a great noise with that end of him which talked easiest, he cried out, ‘Oh dear, oh dear! I think I have made a mess of myself.’” And of course, there was fart art, long before The Lion King’s Pumbaa felled entire herds with his flatulence. 

From Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1868), there’s He-Gassen, or, “the fart war.” This centuries-old scroll, dated to approximately the 1840s, depicts an epic battle of gas between booty-baring men and women on horseback and on foot. Even a cat gets caught up in the fray at one point. The powerful gusts of human wind depicted can break through boards and traverse wide battlefields. 

Westerners were often mocked in Japan at the time through images that blew them away by the strength of Japanese farts, so it’s possible that this scroll is a political cartoon of sorts. Like a 19th century Japanese South Park.

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