Fart, farting (he)


Fart, farting (he 屁)

***** Location: Japan, worldwide
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


"The fart of a water goblin", kappa no he, 河童の屁, へのかっぱ

This expression in Japanese means something small and insignificant. If the water goblin does it in the water, it is not heard very far and does not smell, and very few of us have ever experienced it in real life ...
But the real origin of this expression seems to go further, meaning "koppa no hi 木っ端の火", the flame of a little wood splinter used for igniting a fire, which was rather insignificant in itself. People of the Edo period used to play with words, so the KOPPA became a KAPPA.

. kappa 河童 / 合羽 / かっぱ Kappa water goblin .  
- Kappapedia - Introduction -


Once someone makes a friend of a kappa, according to the stories, they have been known to be very helpful to their human friends. For example, they sometimes help farmers to irrigate their land. Kappa are also skilled at medicine and legend has it that they are the ones who taught the art of bone setting to the Japanese people. Because of this goodwill on the part of the kappa, some Shintō shrines have been dedicated to kappa that have proven themselves particularly helpful.

Saito and the Kappa :
source : shiseidodojo.wordpress.com


The Fart Scrolls - he maki 屁巻き

He-Gassen emaki 屁合戦絵巻 “The Fart Battle”

source : www.tofugu.com

Japanese source : www.wul.waseda.ac.jp


pun for 蛇 HEBI serpent - he bi
to extinguish a fire (hi/bi) with a fart (he)


source : www.kawasaki-bankin.net


Checking the archives
there is NO hokku using 屁 by

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


Kobayashi Issa and Haiku about the Fart

he to mo omowanu, (consider it less than a fart), which Shinji translates: "don't care a bit about it."

chiru ume o he to mo omowanu o-kao kana

not giving a damn
that plum blossoms fall...
his saintly face

(Tr. David Lanoue)

The haiku has the prescript, "Picture of Great Master Dharma."
Dharma (Bodhidharma) was the Buddhist patriarch who brought Buddhism from India to China. In the haiku, Issa imagines that Dharma considers the falling of the plum blossoms "less than a fart"--not important in the least.
In this way Dharma embodies, and silently teaches, a lesson in Buddhism. The passing of the blossoms--life to death, being to non-being--doesn't put a frown or even a wrinkle of concern on the face of the enlightened one; instead, he accepts the world's transience with sublime indifference, like a good saint should. Thanks to Shinji's explanation of the colloquialism at the heart of the haiku, its religious meaning reveals itself in my translation. (haiga, see below)
© David Lanoue

uma no he ni mezamete mireba tobu hotaru

the horse's fart
wakes me to see...
fireflies flitting

Issa and haiku about farting
Read more HERE !

fart-balls, hedama 屁玉
"a comical way to say fart"

naga no hi ya jinkô mo takazu he mo hirazu

a long day--
not burning incense
not cutting farts

"not burning incense, not farting," an idiomatic expression that Shinji Ogawa translates as, "not doing anything substantial."

uma no he ni fuki-tobasareshi hotaru kana

blown away
by the horse's fart

durch den Furz des Pferdes
das Glühwürmchen

David Lanoue, Inverview mit Angelika Wienert


Issa and Chris Drake

he kurabe ga mata hajimaru zo fuyugomori

inside all winter --
the farting contests
begin again

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the 11th month (December) of 1816, when Issa was making a trip back to the area east of Edo to see various poets. In the 11th month people prepare for living inside for most of the next three to four months, and back in Issa's hometown in the snow country they are putting up special panels to protect windows and doors from the large amounts of snow that slide down from the roofs. Issa's hokku seems to be general, about rural people all over eastern Honshu, and most of these people will now change their lifestyle and live mostly indoors, staying near stoves and footwarmers and handwarmers.

When they sleep, for example, their futon mattresses probably radiate out from a footwarmer in the center of the room. Life becomes more intimate, and privacy tends to disappear. Everyone's farts are known to everyone else, and Issa suggests that people simply give up useless attempts to hide their farts and let fly as if they were alone. Probably there are some formal fart contests going on, but Issa seems to be basically talking humorously about daily life and its changing soundscape when people are cooped up inside in winter.

In Issa's time farts and other bodily functions were not considered as vulgar or embarrassing as they were in the Victorian era and even today in some circles -- at least not by Japanese farmers and other commoners, that is. Japanese aristocrats traditionally hired nuns to escort their daughters around after puberty when they appeared in front of others. These nuns were called "farting nuns" because they would immediately take responsibility for the fart (or any other lapse) of the young woman and leave her blameless. In Issa's time some rich merchant families hired "farting nuns," but generally farts and the body in general were not seen as dirty or evil or shameful.

One leading Edo writer, Hiraga Gennai, even wrote a famous "Theory of Farting" about a highly skilled and very popular farter who performed long fart concerts in a small theater near the Sumida River (there's a translation in Haruo Shirane, ed., Early Modern Japanese Literature). Many other works of literature in the Edo period deal with farting and the body in rather positive ways. Issa is no exception.

Chris Drake

he oi bikuni 屁負比丘尼 "nun to take on the fart"

. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 .


Speaking of Daruma, here is my bit on the farting Buddha :

a frog farting -
this too is the
voice of Buddha

a frog farting -
this too is the
voice of God

Gabi Greve, 2005

The second would be a Christian version of it.

More about my Yamashina pictures and the Kappa:
Yamashina Paintings,
by Gabi Greve


Robin de Gill has a great page on
the fart-bug (he-kiri mushi)

If haiku’s first-poet Basho's friend, the Rabelesian Kikaku introduced the fart as a phenomenon of wintering-in, Issa found ways to extend it into other seasons. He wrote a baker's dozen of stink-bug haiku (Fall).
In Japanese, the bug is called the farting-bug and a transliteration of the correct usage of the Chinese characters – which Issa didn't always use – is "cut-fart-bug." I do not know if it is a certain beetle or a much smellier smaller bug.

PARAVERSING - Read it all HERE !

ore yori wa haruka joozu zo hehirimushi

your skill level
is way beyond mine,
fart bug

Tr. Chris Drake

This autumn hokku is from the ninth month (October) of 1820, when Issa was living in his hometown. In it he praises a "fart bug," that is, a bombardier beetle, which emits, when threatened, an explosive burst of hot, stinking spray in the direction of an approaching predator. The word can also sometimes refer to stink bugs (Pentatomoidea) and similar insects. The hokku seems to assume that Issa is aware he has a reputation of sorts as an amateur farter, but after encountering this particular beetle he knows he's completely outclassed.

The second hokku beyond this one in Issa's diary is the following:

mi-hotoke no hana no saki nite hehiri-mushi

at the tip
of the Buddha's nose
a fart bug

This may be a stone statue of the Buddha sitting or standing outside a temple or beside a road. Issa is not criticizing the beetle for showing disrespect for the Buddha's nose, even though it, like everything about the Buddha, is "precious (mi-)." Instead, he praises both the beetle and the Buddha. The beetle may be trying to learn about Buddhism in its own way, since it doesn't seem to have emitted its spray, and the level of patience and tranquility shown by the Buddha in spite of having the beetle on such a sensitive spot is very impressive.

Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

Worldwide use

An Ill Wind
Fascinating facts about farting

The O.E.D. treats farting with rigorously pedantic academic detachment. The etymology of the verb ‘to fart’ is traced back through Old English (Feortan), Old High German (Ferzan) to the Sanskrit ‘pard’ – is it merely co-incidental that we say ‘pardon’ afterwards? One far-fetched linguistic speculation often leads to another. For instance, someone held in bad repute is said to be ‘in bad odour’. Could this be because they habitually fart? The word ‘fart’ has an expressively onomatopoeaic quality: it fizzles & tuts, & the medial ‘ah’ suggests a sense of relief & satisfaction after letting go of what has been held in. The synonymous ‘break wind’ is long-winded in comparison. It sounds affected.

The venerable dictionary informs us that ‘fart’ is ‘not now in decent use’, but this implies it once was. Thus evolution of linguistic usage can reveal changing social & moral attitudes. Moreover, there are racial & national as well as historical differences. Etiquette is culturally-specific. What is considered bad manners here is not so in all societies. This point is instructively illustrated by Allen Edwardes in his pornographic masterpiece, ‘The Jewel in the Lotus’ :-

source : www.davyking.com

Things found on the way

Issa and his Daruma Haiku
by Gabi Greve


Kappa and Koppa

Puns and Word Plays in Edo
by Gabi Greve

Japanese Ghosts and Water Goblins (kappa)
by Gabi Greve

Koppa Butsu - Buddha Statues by Master Carver Enku 木っ端仏と円空
by Gabi Greve


"Mach' es kurz! Am Jüngsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!"
Keep it short. On the Last Day of Judgement, it is nothing but a fart!

J.W. von Goethe
Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!"


the moonflower's face,
the snake gourd's fart

Masaoka Shiki

Buddha-death, the HOTOKE at the end of life
by Gabi Greve


tsuki suzushi suimen bukutto kappa no he

cool moon
bubbles of the water surface
the fart of a water goblin
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

lune froide -
des bulles d'eau à la surface
le pet d'un lutin 

Kobayashi Issa
source : www.chichin puipui.f


in the green green hills
temple where Buddha smiles
as geisha farts

sur la colline verte
temple où Buddha sourit
quand la geisha pète

Richard Vallance November 2006


Lonely lily pad.
Once pride of the pond, now home
to a farting frog.

Copyright © The Farting Frog


half a leek left--
somewhere content
a farting gopher

Copyright © Michael P. Garofalo


silent for so long—
glad to hear
even her fart

Eric Houck, Jr., US


that fart
prayer fans
all sermon long

ash of moth , USA


the passing stranger

l'étranger qui passe

Odd G. Aksnes , Norway

Quoted from Tempslibres: Humour


eating red peppers
the peonies behind me
burst into flames

a loud fart
"what did you say?"
she asks

even when i walk
against the wind, the stink of
my fart stays

- Shared by Alan Pizzarelli -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013

winter wind

- Shared by Dennis Chibi -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013

Related words

***** Memorial Day for Akutagawa Ryunosuke, July 24
Kappa ki 河童忌
kigo for late summer

***** Water Goblin Festival, Kappa Matsuri かっぱ祭り
kigo for summer

***** Fart-bug, he-kiri mushi, he-hiri mushi 屁ひり虫
kamemushi かめむし:weird hexagonal stinky bugs
heppiri mushi へっぴり虫(へっぴりむし)
hekoki mushi へこき虫(へこきむし)
Miidera gomimushi 三井寺ごみむし(みいでらごみむし)
Miidera hanmyoo 三井寺斑猫(みいでらはんみょう)
kigo for all autumn

Miidera, Mii Temple 三井寺


HE : the fart, he no he no
へ の へ の

how to paint a face with a few Japanese letters,
forget about the meaning ...


. daidoogei 大道芸 Daidogei street performance in Edo .

kyokuhe 曲屁 "acrobatic farting" like music

Going for a laugh and making money with seven different tones of a fart.

Many of these "artists" were found at 江戸両国広小路 Ryogoku Hirokoji in Edo.
佐山俊二 Sayama Shunji and 由利徹 Yuri Toru became a combi to perform the two of them.

Others performed the 三番 Sanbaso dance or imitated the call of a rooster.

source : メタボン

曲屁福平 kyokuhei fukuhei - musical fart for good fortune

Accompanied by a music group for more effect, often at small stalls with a stage.

There is even a book by Hiraga Gennai with the title
平賀源内「放屁論」- Discussion of Farting





Gabi Greve said...

love it gabi
our kyoka group is all over the fart topic...
hah good thing we dont have smell-o-vision...

Aaa, indeed, Shanna san, with sound and smell it would be even more realistic. Pffffffffffffff!

Anonymous said...

... or a sight-and-scent computer ...

Anonymous said...

Re Farts as a Seasonal Topic

In my note on Issa's Fartbug, above, I mentioned Kikaku priming the pump for farts as a winter item. I would bet there must be a saijiki out there with he-kurabe, fart-comparison, i.e. contests as an unintended winter activity. Now I stay in a house with some old dogs and the choice is freezing to death or being asphyxiated(sp).Issa used to go out to "throw out" his farts but dogs are not so kind. (I have about 100 pgs on issa & farts written 10 yrs ago but, unfortunately not in my pc. . . ) Anyway, my point is just that farts can be a seasonal as well as aseasonal topic.

Gabi Greve said...

a kyoka

never hold in a fart
it travels up your spine
to your brain
and gives you
stinky ideas

or as a ku

holding in a fart
backblast to the brain
stinking ideas

shanna from Hawaii

Gabi Greve said...

he kurabe ga mata hajimaru zo fuyugomori


Maybe because of the winter diet of sweet potatoes (a great HE producer) and cabbage (another windy vegetable), this is a winter kigo?
Also, there was not much to do on a winter day in the cold province of Shinshu in Japan.


fart competition <>
my cat leaves
the kotatsu

 Look at my Haiku Kun !


Gabi Greve said...

my son the fartmaster
armpit music
sounds like the real thing

shanna from Hawaii


Stew dinner -
each guest repeatedly goes
to the restroom to pass gas.

Zhanna Rader :)


Anonymous said...

Heheheh . . . I love it Gabi!

The Water Goblin was in the surf with me today . . . farting . . . I
saw the bubbles!

Richard Kay ;-)

Anonymous said...

HE goes ofF
At odd places
at Random
Then wrinkles his nose
at this foul Smell

Please read the caps!!!

_kala ramesh

Anonymous said...

the farting contest
begins again...
winter seclusion

he kurabe ga mata hajimaru zo fuyugomori


by Issa, 1816

Tr. David Lanoue

lorin said...

... great to see that the Japanese vernacular, in this case, would translate so easily into Australian vernacular :-)

he to mo omowanu, (consider it less than a fart), which Shinji translates: "don't care a bit about it."

chiru ume o he to mo omowanu o-kao kana

not giving a damn
that plum blossoms fall...
his saintly face

Here's my Australian adaptation:

couldn't give a fart
that plum blossoms fall...
his saintly face


Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

he mo hirazu jinkoo mo takazu toshi no kure

the year ends
without farts
or fine incense

Comment by Chris Drake

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

Tsuyama Gongo Festival 津山ごんご祭り
Yoshii Riverbank Park

Celebrated on the first Saturday and Sunday in August in honor of Gongo (a kappa, one of Japan's mythical creatures), the Gongo Festival is a lively celebration with parades in the daytime and fireworks at night.
A Gongo Dance Contest is held at the festival.

Tsuyama Town Festivals

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

juu bakari he o sute ni deru yonaga kana

going out to fart
about ten times...
a long night

(Tr. David Lanoue)

Gabi Greve said...

Fukutomi Oribe,
"Onara, Fundoshi, Heso 「屁」(おなら)「褌」(ふんどし)、「臍」(へそ), a long-awaited reissue of the rarest publication in Japan;
ー福富織部著「屁」(おなら)「褌」(ふんどし)、「臍」(へそ)の珍三部作; 事実、古今東西このつかみ所のない屁に並々ならぬ関心を示した者は多数おり、あのエレキテル平賀源内も「放屁論」を書いている。屁に関する本を挙げればきりがないが、名奇書としていたるところで語られる福富織部「屁」("おなら"と読む。双文館/1926年初版)がまず筆頭にあげられることだろう。


Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

mushi no he ni fuki-tobasaruru tombo kana

blown away
by the fart bug...

The "fart bug" (literally, "gas emitting bug") or bombardier beetle is a Japanese stink bug.

David Lanoue

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

A story from Shizuoka about the Setsubun Demons
The chant for Setsubun:
The old hag next door has farted and now it stinks, it stinks, whow, it stinks so much!
oni wa soto 鬼は外 "Demons, get out!" 
「鬼は―外! 福は―内!」