Hishaku & Hinoshu

Greetings yokai fans!

I hope you are all having a good holiday. New Years is just around the corner and I am preparing to head back to Japan to continue working on yokai!

Today I am posting the next set of microbial yokai. This posting covers two main types of these yokai, shu and shaku. We saw a kan no mushi last time and I talked a bit about that… Shu and shaku are hard to translate, so I ended up leaving their names as shu and shaku. The reason is because these are different types of bugs, and they are so tied in with Chinese magic that is becomes very hard to accurately translate them. I’ll try to do a bit of explanation here, before the posts.

Shaku have defined shapes and forms. They infect specific parts of the body each time, and are pin-pointable. Their illnesses are usually illness “of the blood” (a vague term in Chinese medicine, which I’m not advocating here, but just describing as the yokai are described in Edo-period textbooks!). The main idea behind this “theory” is that blood can become too hot or cold, or too slow, or too thin, and it causes various ailments. Shaku cause pain deep within the body. Shaku are tied to “in” (i.e. yin), the cosmic force of negativity and shadow.

Shu, on the other hand, do not have definite forms. They collect and dissipate, causing problems as they take various shapes. Shu cause pain on the surface of the body usually. Their ailments are not of the blood, but of the “ki” (another vague concept, called “chi” in Chinese, related to words like “reiki” — it basically means “energy”). Shu are related to “yo” (i.e. yang), the cosmic force of positivity and light.

If that’s a bit confusing, don’t worry, it is! If you read The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits you’ll be a little familiar with in and yo and the cosmic forces, but that’s such a deep and confusing subject that it would take a whole other Patreon project to delve into its meanings. For our purpses, we just care about the yokai 😉 but it helps a bit to get a basic explanation of the energies we’re going to be talking about with these “disease yokai.”

Anyway, on to the yokai!

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