June 9, 2012

Historic Japanese Fartwork (plus: water goblins!)

In The Big Book of Gross Stuff, I wrote about one of Japan’s most famous monsters: a water goblin called the kappa. If a human swimmer makes the kappa angry, the goblin will comes up beneath the paddler and pull his intestines out through his—uh—poop chute.

Ouch! What might annoy the kappa enough to do this? Let’s just say you should never pee while swimming.

As you can guess, the kappa is strongly associated with poop. After all, this monster is known for its horrible gas, as well as the fact that it has three (yes, THREE) anuses.

So if you’re wondering what in the heck is going on in the painting above, it’s a print from the 1860s by Kawanabe Kyosai called “The Water Imp's Fart.” It shows fishermen being blown off their boat by a kappa’s wind.

How can you keep a kappa away? Fart. That’s what the artwork below shows. It’s by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, and it’s titled “Farting at a kappa at the lumber yard in Fukagawa.”

Hey, it’s fartwork! (More kappa info here, here, and here.)

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