Hey! I'm back. Sorry, I went to Las Vegas to attend a wedding.

So I was reading Ueda Akinari 上田秋成's Tandai shōshin roku 胆大小心緑 ("Record of a Fearless Fussbudget") when I came across this amusing passage:


I was going to translate it, but then I thought to myself: Self, remember the last time you mentioned this book on No-sword, and Mike I. pointed out that a full translation by William E. Clarke and Wendy E. Cobcroft was freely available at PMJS Papers? Why duplicate that effort?

So I went and found their translation, and here it is:

The badger is better at bewitching than the fox, and is not so showy about it all as the fox is. Badgers seem to run the show in Shikoku. In Kyūshū, the gawatarō predominates. In Kyoto and Osaka, trollops, teachers and tea masters rule the roost. Peace and quiet cannot be in this world.

Unfortunately, though, I think that this translation is wrong, and in a manner that ruins the punchline. My issue is with the word tsuku. Clarke and Cobcroft translate it variously as "run the show," "predominate," and "rule the roost," but in the context of spirit beings the more likely meaning is surely "possess."

The badger is better at bewitching than the fox, and is not so showy about it all as the fox is. I hear that in Shikoku there are cases of possession by badgers. In Kyūshū they have possession by gawatarō. In Kyoto and Osaka, it is trollops, teachers and tea masters who possess and torment the people. There is no peace to be had anywhere in this world.

Other comments:

  • gawatarō is, as C. and C. point out, another word for kappa. There's nothing in my edition (Iwanami Bunko, natch) to indicate that the first consonant is /g/ rather than /k/, but either are possible readings of the kanji.
  • I don't know if Ueda had a particular kind of "teacher" in mind or not. Thoughts?

Popularity factor: 5


You were in the United States?? And in Vegas, no less?? I would have driven those three hours to see you in a heart beat! Oh well, next time? Hope you and your family are well!! - melissa


I think that the implication is still there, so that the others, human or not, predominate, or rule the roost as our possessors. It's a loose approach but I feel that the implication follows from the head phrase where possession is explicitly stated.

L.N. Hammer:

Echoing anon above (though it would have been a few hours more for me).



Clearly I misunderestimated the amount of time people are willing to spend in cars! Well, maybe next time.

Saibancho: That's interesting! I guess I can see it if I squint, but if that is indeed the intention I don't think it's clear enough. Perhaps I am just too coarse and contemporary.


Thanks for this, I'm collecting period critical remarks about chajin.

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