Various unmentionable acts


This was written in 1330, but you might be able to guess what the subject is….

A man whose thoughtful manner had seemed attractive laughs and shouts uncontrollably; he chatters interminably, his court cap askew, the cords of his cloak undone, the skirts of his kimono rolled up to his shins, presenting so disreputable a picture that he is unrecognisable as his usual self. A woman will brush the hair away from her forehead and brazenly lift up her face with a roar of laughter. She clings to a man’s hand as he holds a saké cup, and if badly bred she will push appetisers into the mouth of her companion, or her own, a disgraceful sight. Some men shout at the top of their lungs, singing and dancing, each to his own tune. Sometimes an old priest, invited at the behest of a distinguished guest, strips to the waist, revealing grimy sallow skin, and twists his body in a manner so revolting that even those watching with amusement are nauseated. Some drone on about their achievements, boring their listeners; others weep drunkenly. People of the lower classes swear at one another and quarrel in a shocking and frightening manner; after various shameful and wretched antics they end up by grabbing things the have been refused, or falling from the veranda (or from a horse or a carriage) and injuring themselves. Or, if they are not suffficiently important to ride, they staggger along the main thoroughfares and perform various unmentionable acts before earthen walls or at people’s gates.

Kenko’s Essays In Idleness translated by Donald Keene 151

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