Shin Sarugoki (新猿楽記)

Shin Sarugoki is a work written by FUJIWARA no Akihira, a scholar who lived in the mid-Heian period. This is a kind of mono zukushi (list of things) or shokunin zukushi (list of craftsmen), in which the author listed social conditions, trades, public entertainment, and culture under the pretense of a man who went to see sarugaku (a medieval Noh farce) at Kyo one night. Because of its contents, the book is also considered the origin of a textbook for common people.


The precise date of completion is unknown. But there are two widely held views that it was either completed during the Tengi era (1053-1058), when the author FUJIWARA no Akihira was in his later years, during the Kohei era (1058-1065), or the first year of the Chogen era (1028). Though both of them are pure suppositions. He signed his name and official title of Ukyo no Daibu (Right City Commissioner) on the first page of the book, and if it is true, although there is no record of his being appointed as Ukyo no Daibu, it would be his final title, which is the only reason why many people suppose that the work was written in his later years.


One night, the author goes to see sarugaku at Kyo. It is the most splendid play he has ever seen, so he begins to list genres of sarugaku and make comments on its masters. Among the visitors who come to see sarugaku, the author focuses on a family of Uemon no jo (the third rank official of Court Guard of the Right). And he begins to describe three wives of Uemon no jo, sixteen daughters (or their husbands), and nine sons.
(The following are summaries of each chapter, and various terms mentioned here will be explained since they are historically important too.)


Among sarugaku, the following are the ones which provoke explosive laughter.

Noronji (master of curse): a performance in which an actor runs around, brandishing a sword.

Hikiutomai (dwarf dance): a dance performed by dwarfs.

Dengaku: it has something to do with tamai (rice field dance), which was performed at the rice planting. It became very popular in Heiankyo (the former capital of Japan) during the Eicho era (1096-1097).

Kairaishi/Kugutsushi: a wandering group of public entertainers who make a living by hunting. In the group, men not only do a puppet show but also a display of swordsmanship and conjuring tricks. Women sing and work as prostitutes in the performance.

Tojutsu (Chinese-style conjuring): conjuring tricks and magic which were introduced from China.

Shinadama (juggling with various objects): a performance in which a man tosses various objects similar to modern day juggling.

Riugo: a performance of spinning an object resembling an hourglass drum on a string attached to two sticks.

Yatsudama (literally eight balls): it is a variation of shinadama, and a man juggles with balls.

Hitorisumai (one-man mimicry of wrestling): a performance of one-man mimicry of wrestling, which is supposed to be played by two people.

Hitori sugoroku (one-man board games): a performance of the game of sugoroku (Japanese backgammon) with a doll.

Honenashi (literally no bone): there are various interpretations of this performance, but it would probably have been a display of acrobatics.

Honeari (literally having bones): there are two different views about it; one that it is a performance of imposing dancing, and the other that it is a performance of showing strong muscles and superhuman strength.

The following are performances in which two extremes appear or counterparts support the structure of a story.

Endo tairyo no koshihase (hip movement of the district headman): "koshihase" means posture, and it is a performance of mimicking the way of walking of Tairyo, a superintendent of the district. There is a view that 'Endo' is one of the independent public entertainments.

Ebisuki toneri no ashitsukai: a mimicry of the funny footwork of the prawn-fishing lower official.

Hikami sendo no torihakama: "hikami" is a name of place, Hikami, Hikami district, Tanba Province (the present Tanba City, Hyogo Prefecture), and "sendo" means a functionary of a temple. It is a mimicry of the functionary exposing his thighs with his hakama (pleated skirt-like Japanese garment) rolled-up.

Yamashiro oigo no sashiogi (an act of covering one's face with a fan): "oigo" means an aged woman, and it is a performance of mimicking the woman who has seen the man's thighs and bashfully covers her face with a fan.

A tale of a biwa-playing minstrel: a mimicry of a biwa-playing minstrel.

Senzumanzai no sakahokai: "Senzumanzai" is a new year's performer who visits houses, pleading for an auspicious year, and receives a gratuity. "Sakahokai" originally meant saying words of congratulations to each other at a banquet. It is a mimicry of the words made while brewing new sake.

Breastbone of a man with full stomach: it would have been a performance showing the funny motion of the rib cage made when a man drums on his full belly.

Imojiri mai no kubisuji (nape): "imojiri" means a mantis. It seems to be a mimicry of a mantis stretching its forelimbs and waving its neck.

Saint Fukuko's begging for a Buddhist stole

Nun Myoko's hunting for diapers

Unmasked face of the servant Kei

A flustered court attendant's whistling

An old man's funny dancing

Priestess prostitutes waiting for a man in full-make up

Pranks of Kyoto youths

An eastern country bumpkin's first visit to the capital

Masters of the sarugaku

Reviews of masters
This chapter has counterparts too. A style of writing is a parody of manajo (a preface written in Chinese) in Kokin Wakashu (Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry).

Hyakuta: a person who was admired most along with Jinnan, who will be mentioned next. His achievements were marvelous, and his performance was eminent among players through the ages (although this portrayal is exactly the same as what KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro wrote in manajo).

Jinnan: he always appeared on a stage of sarugaku, and was praised highly by the public.

There are no sources for the following people, so it is not clear who they are.



A master of the Agata well

A chief priest of the service at the Seson-ji Temple

SAKANOUE no Kikumasa


Kikutake OHARA

ONO no Fukumaru

The first lawful wife

She is sixty years old (her husband Uemon no jo is forty). Uemon no jo got married to her just because her parents were rich, but he is naturally a lecherous man, regretting that he took a wife who is older than he. Now her hair is white, the wrinkles in her face are like waves in the sea, her teeth fell out, and her saggy breasts are like bull's testicles. Still, she puts on makeup, and blames her husband for not having the slightest interest in her. She had better become a nun, but she still feels jealous of her husband as if she were a poisonous snake or a demon. She believes in the following Shintoist and Buddhist deities in order to get her husband's love.

Kankiten (a god of joy): it refers to Great Holy Kankiten. It was considered a god of producing harmony between married couples.

Saenokami/ Funadonokami: it was originally a god of defending villages from external enemies and fending off epidemics, and also of reproduction and relationships between men and women.

The Igatome festival at Kitsunezaka slope: Kitsunezaka was a steep road which runs from the west of Matsugasaki Village, Atago District, Yamashiro Province (the present Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City) to Kitaiwakura. Igatome was an old fox which was deified as a god of matchmaking. It was a festival for the fox to see a man, and people danced, tapping abalones (female genitals).

The festival of love at Akomachi, Inariyama: people prayed to a fox which became a follower of the Inari gracious god in the Fushimi Inaritaisha Shrine for getting love of men, brandishing dried bonito likened to an erect penis.

The travelers' guardian deity of Gojo: unknown. Shitogimochi (rice cakes for a god) were dedicated to a god.

The To-ji Temple's Yasha (a demon): Kongo yasha myoo was owned by the To-ji Temple, and it was a statue of Sanmen roppi (three faces and six arms and standing on a lotus with one leg raised) whose three faces are Seiten, Dakichiten, Benzaiten (a Buddhist goddess of music, learning, eloquence, wealth, longevity, and protection from natural disasters). It was also considered a god of love. A porridge of rice and vegetables were dedicated to this god.

As mentioned above, the first lawful wife was described as a lecherous woman, which makes the work lively.

The second wife

She is as old as Uemon no jo, and not so beautiful but a person with a good heart, serving her husband. She is good at many kinds of housework, especially spinning, weaving, dying, and sewing. The following are the clothes she prepares.

Tonoi shozoku: clothes for everyday wear.

Eboshi: a hat worn in everyday life.

Kariginu: it was originally everyday hunting wear of the nobility.


Awase: a lined kimono.

Akome: a kimono worn between an upper garment and an undergarment.

Uchiki: a gown worn under the upper garment.

Fusuma: a rectangle awase used for bedclothes.

Hitoe: an unlined kimono.

Sashinuki: a kind of hakama whose bottom is threaded to fasten the bottom at the ankle.

Suikan: a short plain hunting jacket, which people do not mind getting wet. The suikan was tucked in the hakama.

Hino shozoku (literally day dress): traditional formal court dress, and accessories for ceremonial court dress.

Koburi: headdress

Uenokinu: it originally referred to an upper garment of traditional formal court dress and ancient Japanese informal wear for noblemen.

Hanpi: a short-sleeved upper garment, which is worn under the uenokinu.

Shitagasane: clothes worn under the hanpi. It has a long train.

Okuchi: a hakama worn under the outer hakama. Okuchi hakama.

Ue no hakama: a hakama worn with a ceremonial court dress.

Obi (a belt)

Tachi (a sword)

Shaku: as well as shaku (a mace), a board to hold when he meets an Emperor.

Ogi (a fan)

Kutsu: leather shoes

Shitozu: a variation of 'shitagutsu,' which means tabi (split-toe socks) without a split-toe.

The third wife

She is a beautiful woman at the age of eighteen, and has a relative who is an influential court lady. She is ignorant of the world. Her husband forgets his sufferings every time he sees her, and always stays with her, not minding that he will be put in danger or lose his fortune for her. Because of this, he is mocked, and his other two wives are jealous of her, but he pretends not to know it. Because even elixirs of life are nothing compared with this wife (in their powers of rejuvenation).

A husband of Oikimi

He can roll a dice and make it show any number he likes. He has all qualifications of a gambler: first, arrogance; second, a lot of money; third, good at betting; fourth, acting brave; fifth, making a false show of power; sixth, having a fluent tongue; seventh, deceiving people; eighth, not minding killing someone when he loses. The following are forms of gambling (sugoroku) that he is good at (All of them are unknown.).


















A husband of Naka no kimi

His name is Gundoji, and he is the strongest warrior in the world who has never lost in any war. He is good at the following things.


Night attacks

Haseyumi/hasehiki (literally running and shooting): shooting arrows from horseback. He was especially good at oumonoyumi (the art of shooting cows, dogs, and enemy cavalrymen while chasing them. See inuoimono (dog-hunting event, a skill of an archery)).
According to "Wamyo Ruijusho" (dictionary of Japanese names) by MINAMOTO no Shitagau, "haseyumi" (馳射) is pronounced 'omumonoiru.'
This means oumonoyumi.

Machiyumi (literally waiting and shooting): Shooting arrows at an enemy or game after long periods of waiting.

Tomoshiyumi/tomoshi (literally lighting and shooting): hunting of deer in the mountains by making a fire in an iron basket to lure the deer in summer.

Kachiyumi (literally walking and shooting): shooting arrows not riding on horseback.

Umayumi (shooting arrows on horseback)

Kasagake (shooting arrows toward distant target from horseback)

Yabusame (the art of shooting arrows on horseback)

Yatsumato (literally eight targets): shooting eight targets set at the different places from horseback.

Sanzaku: shooting arrows from horseback toward a target tucked in a stick which is three feet high.

Tabasami (literally putting between hands): unknown.

A husband of San no kimi

Dewa gonnosuke (Deputy Governor of Dewa Province), Toyomasu TANAKA, owns a large property of rice fields and cultivates the fields faithfully. He uses some tenant farmers, so he only prepares farming equipment, does public work, and directs farm work. The following is a list of farming equipment.

A spade
A hoe

Maguwa: a tool for plowing paddy fields drawn by a horse or ox.

Karasuki: a tool for digging up paddy fields drawn by a horse or ox.

Iseki: a barrier set in the river to shift a stream of water.

Tsutsumi (a bank)

Horikemizo: an irrigation channel.

Azenawate: a path between rice fields.


Nawashiro (a rice nursery)


Hashoku: seeding and propagating plants.

The crops Toyomasu raises

Wase: an early-ripening variety of rice.

Okute: slow-maturing variety of rice.

Urushine: nonglutinous rice.

Mochii: glutinous rice.



Black-eyed peas

Azuki beans


Millet (Panicum miliaceum)

Hie: Japanese millet.

Soba (buckwheat)


Taxes that Toyomasu pays

Jishi: the land rent for the Kanden (rice fields except the allotted farmland) and isshikiden (rice fields except rice field lots in charge of a nominal holder).

Kanmotsu: a tax on the work other than the odd-job tasks.

Somai: bundles of rice carried to the Imperial court among the denso (rice field tax).

Cho yo daito: rice plants paid instead of cho (product tax) and yo (tax in kind).

Tanmai: temporary tax levied on each terrace of rice field.

Tsukairyo (literally usage fee): unknown.

Kugyu: goods collected when the Governor of the province is newly appointed.

Domo: district specialties presented to the Imperial court.

Sakate: a tip, drink money.

Shuji (literally seeding): unknown.

Eiryo: deduction from jishi because of the expenses for cultivating mainly at the rice fields managed directly by the Department of the Imperial Household.

Kyoyaku: district specialties procured by the provincial officer and sent to the Minbusho (Popular Affairs (chiefly land, census, and taxes) Bureau).

Tsukuda: rice fields such as kanden and shoen (a private estate) directly managed by other people, where seeds and farming tools were lent to the farmers and all of the harvest was collected.

Suiko: it is a system of lending rice owned by the officials to a farmer in spring and collecting the rice with interest in autumn, which later became compulsory public rice credit tax.

The fourth daughter

The fourth daughter is a shrine maiden who is good at ura (augury), kagura asobi (singing and dancing before the altar), yorizuru (plucking the strings of a bow made of Japanese cherry birch to call down a god), kuchiyosuru (telling the word of the dead in a state of possession). She dances as if she were a legendary wizard and sings like a bird; She plays the koto (Japanese zither) and taps a drum with the finger tips very well, so men and women of all ages in the world visit her regardless of differences in social standing. The fourth daughter's husband is Umaryo (the horse office of the Right) Momonari KANATSUME, and he is also a smith, a caster, and a craftsman of gold and silver.

Smithery products

Hitohaki: unknown.

A short sword

A sword

Yokohaki : the same as a sword.

Ken (sword of two sharpened edges)

A razor

Yajiri: an arrowhead

Abumi (stirrups)

Kutsuhami: a bit

A hook

A saw

Kana: a Japanese-style plane.

Teono: an adze, a hatchet.

Tatsuki: a hatchet with a wide blade

A sickle
A hatchet
A spade
A hoe

A clamp

A gimlet


Cast-metal objects
A pan

Kanae: a pot to cook meat.

A caldron

Sagari: a pot with a narrow mouth

Ashinagae: a three-legged vessel with two handles for cooking

A bowl

Kanamari: a metallic bowl

Noshi: an iron used to make clothes smooth.

A mirror

A water jar

A vase

Akatsuki: a dish to offer water to Buddha.

Hako: {Buddhist altar fittings} to pile incense.

Kasha: a kind of incense burner.

Shakujo: a stick used by a priest or an ascetic Buddhist monk.

Nyobachi: a percussion instrument for a Buddhist service

Incense burner

Toko, sanko, and goko: a metallic mallet used in esoteric Buddhist rituals. Each of them has a pointed end, three-pronged end, and five-pronged end respectively.

Suzu (a bell): an article used on an esoteric Buddhist altar.

A big bell: a temple bell.

Konku: a golden hand drum.

A husband of Go no kimi

He is a student named SUGAWARA no Masabun, who studies Kidendo (study of Chinese classics on history and poetry), Myobodo (study of Codes), Myogyodo (study of important Confucian literature), and Sando (study of mathematics). He is an even better scholar than OE no Mochitoki, OE no Masahira, SUGAWARA no Fumitoki, and TACHIBANA no Naomoto. Nobody can compare with him among kyoryosho (scholarship students), tokugyosho (selected students), shinshi (Daigaku student who passed a subject of the official appointment test), shusai (Daigaku student who passed a subject of the official appointment test), jogo (a student who completed a course), and taigyo (one who passed the test to become an official).

Books he read.

Selected literature (Confucian classics)

An anthology: White Collected Works.

Records of the Grand Historian of China

Historical records of the Han Dynasty

The Analects of Confucius

The Book of Filial Piety

The Book of Odes

The Chronicle of Zuo or the Commentary of Zuo: Chunqiu Zuoshi Zhuan (Master Zuo's Commentary to the Spring and Autumns).

Statutes: the Taiho Code and Yoro Code.

Rules: the Rules of Three Generations (Konin, Jogan, and Engi)

Prose and poetry he is good at

Shi-fu: both "shi" and "fu" are Chinese verse.

Jo-hyo: "jo" is a preface, and there are three kinds of prefaces: a preface of writing, a preface of verse, and a preface of waka poem. "Hyo" is a report to the throne, and in particular refers to a letter of resignation.

Mikotonori: an Imperial edict which is officially issued.

Senji: an informal imperial letter.

Senmyo: an Imperial edict which has a grand style written in an imperial-edict manner.

Iki: a diploma of court rank

Sojo: a proposal submitted to the Emperor from a subject.

Ganmon: a written petition for a shrine or Buddhist temple.

Jugan: a written intention of a request used for a Buddhist religious service.

Fu-cho: "fu" is a document from higher to lower officials. "Cho" is a document exchanged between officials who are not under the direct supervision of one other.

Kokusho (literally a letter of announcement): unknown.

Kyosho: a document issued by a clerk of the court noble with a title of sanmi (Third Court Rank) or above.

Diary: Sometimes a scholar kept a diary on behalf of the Sekkan (Regent and Chancellor) family.

Moshibumi: an application for being appointed to an office or being raised to the peerage. Later it also referred to a document from lower to higher officials in the same office.

Shosoku: a letter. It was written following the style of an official document.

Orai: a letter which was not written in the format of a formal letter.

Ukebumi: a reply to a letter. It is a letter of accepting the order.


Taisan jojo: this would have been multiplication and division with big numbers.

A multiplication table

Chikusoku hachimen zo: "chikusoku" is a way of counting bamboos by the number of bundles of bamboo. Hachimenzo: unknown.

Kaihoji: a method of calculation to extract the square root.

Kairitsuhoji: a method of calculation to find the cube root.

Chotanbusu sekibeki: this would have been a method of calculation to find the area of an indeterminate form of paddy and field.

A husband of Roku no kimi

He is a famous sumo wrestler called Hoki Gonnosuke (Deputy Governor of Hoki Province) Sujio TANJI. A descendant of Bunza TANJI was on his father's side and a great-grandchild of Ujinaga SATSUMA was on his mother's side; he is a big man and has unrivaled physical strength.

The following are winning techniques of sumo.

Uchikarami: kakezori (hooking backwards body drop); The attacker hooks the defender's closest leg, and drives his head into the defender's side to force him over backwards.

Sotokarame: sotogake (outside leg trip).

Watashikake: the attacker and his opponent grip each other's belts with both hands, and the attacker hooks his leg from the outside or inside, pushing his opponent's upper body with his hands, and forces him down.

Kokubi (headlock throw): the attacker turns into his opponent, throwing him by wrapping one arm around his neck as he makes that turn.

Kowaki: the attacker puts his hands on the opponent's sides and forces him down.

Sakate: The attacker grips an opponent by the arm twisting his joint, and throws him over his shoulder.

The seventh daughter

Although she plays the innocent in front of her husband, she lives for her food and is also a heavy drinker, so when she sees some food, she licks her lips and takes a big bite into it like a dog. She has a beautiful figure, but wants to marry a man who is a shipping agent using horses and carts (in order to eat delicious food).

Her favorite food

Uzurame no ii (literally rice with quails' eyes): unknown.

Hikime no kayu (literally rice porridge with toads' eyes): unknown.

Saba no kokiri (literally chopped mackerel): unknown.

Iwashi no suiri: a dish of cooked sardines with vinegar to get rid of the fishy smell.

Tai no nakahone (the backbone of a sea bream)

A carpe roasted whole

A vegetarian dish

Kutashinagi: boiled potherb mustard with soy sauce dressing.

Kabayaki onetsuki: broiled daikon (Japanese radish).

Salted natto (fermented soybeans): natto that is fermented by malted rice and is not sticky.

Abura koki yudemono (literally greasy boiled food)

Omo kitanaki matsutake (ugly looking matsutake mushroom)

Sweets: a secondary component of his or her diet.

Sane naki atatake: round-shaped rice cakes.

Arekachi dango: dumplings into which rice-flour is kneaded.

Ureume no yawarakanaru (ripe soft plum)

Kiuri no kibameru (yellowed cucumber)

Moromi: raw unrefined sake.
Sakana (appetizers taken with alcoholic drinks)

roasted beans

(As she hoped,) her husband is a shipping agent using horses and carts, and his pseudonym is OCHIKATABE no Tsugoro and his real name is Mochiyuki TSUMORI; he runs around from Otsu and Sakamoto in the east to Yodo and Yamasaki in the west. He does not have time to rest his cows and horses, and is always arguing with people about shipping charges and carts. Although he is arrogant and does not know how to plead with others, he works for his family so hard that he can't take off his shoes, getting chapped feet.

A husband of the eighth daughter

He is from Hida Province and a carpenter holding goi (Fifth Court Rank), called Sugimitsu HIZEN. As plans of the Outer Palace Precincts, Hasshoin (main palace) and Burakuin (Court of Abundant Pleasures) have been handed down, he is studying about palace architecture. He can measure a piece of lumber incredibly precisely. His appearance shows that he is an innate carpenter, because he has eyes like an inkpot, clarifying what is right and what is wrong, and has saw-like teeth, an adze-like neck, a mallet-shaped head (his forehead and the back of the head protrude like a mallet), fingers like a bamboo brushes, elbows like a carpenter's square, shoulders like the Southern barbarian gimlet, and hammer-shaped feet.

Temple architecture

A lecture hall

The main hall of a Buddhist temple

The main hall of a Buddhist temple

A bell tower

A pagoda

The priests' living quarters in a Buddhist temple

The great outer gate

The middle gate

Nikai: the second floor.

Azumaya (literally four eaves): a square-plan structure with a pyramidal roof, azumaya zukuri (structures with hipped roofs).

Shigetaruki: closely spaced rafters.

Mataruki: loosely spaced rafters.

Nareto kamae: this would have been a structure consisting of square shapes.

Yanetsukuri: a bedroom.

Ordinary residence

Tai: symmetrical structures in the shinden style (the architectural style used in aristocratic residences of the Heian period).

Shinden (the main house)

A passage

Watadono: a connecting corridor.

Zoshi machi: "zoshi" is a partition to divide a big room. It is a place where many zoshi were set.

Oidono: a room to cook food.

Kurumayadori: a carriage house to stall an ox-drawn carriage and other things.

Miumaya: a stable.

Azekura: the warehouse built in the Azekura style (a type of storehouse construction)

Yagura (literally armor storage): unknown.

The following are building materials

Keta (crossbeam): a long piece of wood to lay on the pillars for supporting a beam.

Utsuhari: a long piece of wood to lay on the pillars to support roofs.

Taruki (rafter): a piece of wood to lay between the ridge and eaves to support lath and backboards of the roof.

Komai (lath): a long and narrow piece of wood to lay over the rafter.

Udachi: a small pillar to support ridgepoles which stand on the beams.

Inokosasu: a kind of the embellishment of gable pediments. It is a structure placing pieces of wood in the shape of a steep roof over a roof beam of a gable or irimoya style (building with a half-hipped roof), and erecting a short support in the center.

Togata: a square piece of wood to lay on the pillars. A square shape.

Hijiki: a crosspiece to support the weight from above. A bracket.

A pillar

Kamoe: kamoi (a lintel, or a narrow board continuing around an entire Japanese-style room and covering the top slots into which sliding doors, shoji, and fusuma fit).

Nageshi: a horizontal piece of timber to connect pillars.

Itajiki: the external corridor with a boarded floor.

Shitomi: hinged, hanging shutters.

Koshi: latticework.

Tsumado: double doors. In the Shinden style, tusmado were in the four corners.

Yarido: a sliding door.

Koran: a handrail.

Hikakushi: eaves.

Hafu: a bargeboard placed on a gable roof. It is for decoration.

Sekiita: plain boards to roof a house.

Hien: a curved piece of wood to place on the tip of the rafter.

Sumiki: a piece of wood to receive the upper edge of the rafter.

[Original Japanese]