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Shinsarugakuki (新猿楽記?, An Account of the New Monkey Music,[1] or A Record of New Sarugaku)[2] is an 11th-century Japanese work of fiction written by Fujiwara no Akihira (989–1066).[2] The lead character deals with trade in Japan,[3] both exports and imports, with Korea, China, South Asia, South East Asia, and Central Asia. It centres on a merchant named Hachirō-mauto, who traveled to the land of the Fushū in the east and to Kika Island in the west. Although a work of fiction, it is an important piece, revealing an insight into Chinese trade at the time, and the goods the merchant was involved with including perfumes, medicines, animal hides, dyes, brocades, and nuts. He describes an "exaggerated story about people who came to the Sarugaku theatre" and a particular narration of an idealistic landholding farmer who is the son-in-law, the husband of his third daughter.[4] The book also provides accounts of comic sketches, lion dances, puppets, rice-planting songs, and solo sumo wrestling.[2]

Ideal farmer[edit]

In the story titled "Management of Shoen by Tato" on pages 271–72, the theme is that of an ideal farmer with land holdings (who is called as daimyo-tato). He happens to be his son-in-law (husband of his third daughter) and he meticulously tills his lands at the right time, with his own agricultural implements of Chinese origin. He has skills to mend them as required and has an excellent reputation with people who work with him on his fields. He pays for additional work to restore the embankment ditches and paths along the rice fields. He ensures the sowing season for late crops of rice, as well as glutinous rice. The farmer is also present during the planting of all other crops, such as barley, wheat, soy bean, cowpea, millet, buckwheat and sesame in the regular season, assuring that they are all strictly observed, and that the workers, both men and women, who help him in this planning process, are duly rewarded. He does not believe in the wasting of sowing grains. His return at the end of harvest and pounding is always several fold more (exaggerates it as “ten thousand times more”).[4]

Trading of goods[edit]

The book is considered to be a very good source for information on imports of Chinese goods (Karomono). Items listed in the book include "spices and fragrances such as Aloeswood (agalloch, Garro/Gharo), musk, cloves, sandalwood oil, frankincense (or retinite), birtwarth root, borneol, camphor; precious woods such as sandalwood, Sandarswood, Bichofia and sappanwood; medicines such as Alum, elixir of gold, elixir of silver, croton oil, orpiment, myrobalans, betel (areca nuts); pigments such as Gamboge, indigo, lac, verdigris, azurite, minium, cinebar and ceruse; textiles such as twill, brocade, scarlet raiment, “elephant eye” damask, soft Koryo brocade, Tonkin brocade, silk gauze and crape; other items such as leopard and tiger skins, rattan, teacups, wicker baskets, rhinoceros horns, water buffalo (horn) scepters, agate belts, glass urns, Chinese bamboo, sweet bamboo, and hollow glass balls."[5][6][7] Except for minerals, the other goods generally originated from forests of South and Southeast Asia transported by ship to East Asia; mineral products were, however, from Central Asia. For the pan-European network of exchange, Japan was the terminus.[5]


  1. ^ Shirane, Haruo (2012). Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600. Columbia University Press. pp. 248–. ISBN 978-0-231-15730-8. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Brazell, Karen (1998). Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays. Columbia University Press. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-0-231-10872-0. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Delgado, James P. (2008). Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada. University of California Press. pp. 84–. ISBN 978-0-520-25976-8. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Lu, David John (1997). Japan: A Documentary History. M.E. Sharpe. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-56324-906-8. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Batten, Bruce Loyd (2006). Gateway to Japan: Hakata in War And Peace, 500-1300. University of Hawaii Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-8248-3029-8. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Monumenta Nipponica. Sophia University. 2007. p. 484. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Segal, Ethan Isaac; History, Stanford University. Dept. of (2003). Economic growth and changes in elite power structures in medieval Japan, 1150-1500. Stanford University. pp. 69–70. Retrieved 18 October 2012.