A-Yokai-A-Day: Haraita no mushi

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.

Haraita no mushi

Translation: stomach pain worm

Although you might think it lives in the stomach due to its name, haraita no mushi lives actually lives in the kidneys. It has a black back and a blue belly, sharp eyes, and a large mouth which splits open in a cross pattern.

Haraita no mushi bites on to its hosts with its four-way split Predator-like mouth, causing sudden and intense abdominal pain.

This kind of infection is treated with kaininsō (Digenea simplex), a red seaweed which is commonly dried and used as an insect repellant. Harikikigaki says that ingesting a large amount of this will cause the haraita no mushi to be expelled through diarrhea.

This one in particular interested me, because it sounded so specific and it was the first time in reading Harikikigaki that I came across this particular herbal cure. I looked up the herb it referred to and read that in addition to insect repellant, in old herbal medicine it was frequently used as a cure for roundworm infections. So it it seems that this yokai may actually be inspired by the ascaris roundworm. The symptoms match, as well as the cure. And to be honest, parasitic worms scare me more than any ghost or monster, so this particular yokai is pure nightmare material to me.

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