A-Yokai-A-Day: Inki

If you’d like to join me and many others in painting a yokai a day this month, all you have to do is paint, draw, or create any yokai you like, and share it using the hashtag #ayokaiaday. There’s no set list of yokai you have to paint, but you’re free to browse yokai.com or any other yokai resource and choose your favorites.


Inki
陰気

Translation: yin spirit

Inki is a mushi that lives inside of the heart. They look like a small animal, with a blue, furry back and a reddish belly. They are extremely fast, like a rabbit, and they like to dart out of and then back into the bodies they infect.

The word “inki” also means gloom or melancholy. Yin is the energy of darkness and shadow, as opposed to yang, the energy of light and merriment. So by being a “yin spirit,” you can probably guess that the inki is a spirit of gloom. For that reason, it seems to more easily infect people who are naturally jovial or energetic, i.e. full of yang.

There are a few symptoms of an inki infection. When an inki re-enters its hosts body after a period outside, the patient becomes very foggy. They aren’t able to process anything people say to them, as if they were only half-conscious. They can still hear, they just can’t process what is said. The infected also tend to favor dark and gloomy places. Within a couple of hours, the patient’s heart and body will have become taken over by the inki, and it will be as if they are a completely different person.

In modern terms, we might say that a person infected with inki would suffer from something akin to manic depression or bipolar disorder.

Tragically, at some point, the page in Harikikigaki (the book containing all of these infectious yokai) containing inki’s description was damaged, and his face was torn off. The page now looks like this:

The very unfortunate result being that nobody knows what inki’s face or the front of its body looked like. I considered inventing a face for it, but in the end, for this project anyway, I decided to leave it up to the reader to imagine the look. In my own mind’s eye I prefer to imagine inki looking like a sad blue llama.


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