Japan’s Chiba Prefecture was once ruled by a samurai whose death was flatulence-related.

The samurai era was a violent period of Japan’s history. Particularly in the Sengoku period, members of the warrior class were more or less constantly at risk that their life could come to a sudden end as the result of a dispute over land, power, or honor.

Or, in the case of one prominent samurai, over farts.

Chiba Kunitane was the 29th lord of the Chiba clan, which controlled a section of east Japan then called Shimosa (present-day Chiba Prefecture). In 1585, as was the custom, Kunitane called his vassals to Sakura Castle, the Chiba clan’s main stronghold, for a New Year’s celebration.

During the festivities, Kunitane’s  valet, Kuwata Mangoro, farted in front of his lord. When Mangoro broke etiquette once again by breaking wind a second time, Kunitane began to chastise his servant for his lack of manners, to which Mangoro retorted:

“Farts do not care about when and where they come out, so why must you yell at me in front of your vassals?”

Kunitane reacted by flying into a rage, either because he didn’t agree with the when-you-gotta-fart-you-gotta-fart excuse, or because he simply wouldn’t stand for being talked back to by his underling. He kicked Mangoro to the ground and reached for the hilt of his sword, and it was only through the intervention of his assembled vassals that Kunitane was stopped from cutting Mangoro down then and there. It would be inauspicious to taint the New Year’s celebration with bloodshed, they insisted, and why should the lord of the clan be so concerned by such insignificant actions of one so many steps beneath him in power? Still, Kunitane’s anger was too great to entirely subside right away, and Mangoro was sent to live with one of the vassals for a period of time.

▼ The Chiba clan’s crest, a stylized moon and star, bears no overt “farting prohibited” declaration, but apparently Kunitane thought it should go without saying.

Eventually Kunitane forgave Mangoro, and he returned to Sakura Castle to once again take up duties serving his lord. But like a fart that leaves an odor that lingers long after its trumpeting sound has faded, Mangoro’s resentment at the way Kunitane had treated him remained. On the night of May 1, he crept into Kunitane’s private chambers as the lord was sleeping and stabbed with a dagger twice, matching the numbers of farts he’d passed at New Year’s.

Kunitane’s shouts of shock and pain drew the castle guards, and while Mangoro was able to escape to a nearby village, he was eventually surrounded in the woods and either committed suicide or was executed by his pursuers. Meanwhile, Kunitane managed to cling to life for six more days, but eventually succumbed to his wounds and died, at the age of 28.

Adding further indignity to the ordeal was that Kunitane’s heir was only 10 years old at the time. The Chiba clan were themselves affiliated with the more powerful later Hojo clan, with Kunitane married to one of Lord Hojo Ujimasa’s daughters. The Hojo deemed that since Kunitane’s son was too young to take over his father’s duties, the Chiba clan’s domain would instead by administered by one of Ujimasa’s sons instead.

▼ “Yeah so my son is now your ruler. Oh, and if you guys could open up the castle windows and air the place out before he gets there, that’d be great.”

Five years later, the Hojo were conquered by the armies of Toyotomi Hideoyoshi, and the Chiba clan never reclaimed control of the lands that now bear their name.

In the end, it’s a tale that reeks of bizarre tragedy, and it’s startling to think how many lives were changed by two farts. Luckily, the Sengoku period would soon come to a close, ushering in a more peaceful chapter in Japan’s history, and also one in which you could employ someone to take the blame for you when you farted in public.

Sources: Wikipedia, Japaaan via Livedoor News, Wa no Collection, Niwaka Rekishi Ota ga Kataru Zakki
Top image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)
Insert images: Wikipedia/Los688, Wikipedia/Artanisen (edited by SoraNews24)
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