A-Yokai-A-Day: Nakisubaku

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.


Nakisubaku
鳴き寸白

Translation: crying white sun* (i.e. tapeworm)

Nakisubaku is a long white worm with heads at both ends of its body. It lives in the abdomen. It gets its name from the fact that if you squeeze the belly of a person infected with it, the worm lets out an audible cry!

The only symptom of this infection listed in Harikikigaki is a that the patient’s stomach growls. It’s rather a light disease compared to its brethren the kamisubaku and the subakuchu.

This infection is easily cleared out by taking nira (garlic chives, Allium tuberosum) and binrōshi (seeds of the areca palm, Areca catechu)

*A sun is old Japanese unit of measurement equal to about 30.303 millimeters. It’s the same word that we saw earlier in the subakuchu. In old Japanese terminology, subaku refers to segmented tapeworms.


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A-Yokai-A-Day: Kamisubaku

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.


Kamisubaku
噛み寸白

Translation: biting white sun* (tapeworm)

Kamisubaku is a long white worm that lives just behind the liver. It is a nasty, vicious little bugger. Its long body is segmented like many worms, only in this guy, every single segment has its own tiny mouth.

As it slithers around its host’s insides, each of these mouths snaps and chews at the internal organs. As you can imagine, this causes intense abdominal pain.

Medicine does not work against this worm. However, there is a treatment! First, you need to finely chop some hairs from the tail of a dapple-grey horse. You mix these hair filings with soba (buckwheat) flour. Then, you add in sake of the finest grade and knead it into a dough. Eating this will exterminate the worm.

If that doesn’t sound like a typical remedy to you, that’s because it’s not. It’s black magic. The idea behind this curse is that the finely chopped up hairs of what was once a long, beautiful horse tail carry with them a residual memory — a grudge — of what was done to them. Once ingested, the pieces of the dough that the kamisubaku eats transfer that grudge to the worm. Its long white body absorbs the residual memory of the long horse hairs, and is torn apart from the inside out.

*A sun is old Japanese unit of measurement equal to about 30.303 millimeters. It’s the same word that we saw earlier in the subakuchu. In old Japanese terminology, subaku refers to segmented tapeworms.


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A-Yokai-A-Day: Hirune 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.


Hirune no mushi
昼寝の虫

Translation: nap worm

Hirune no mushi lives between the stomach and the esophagus. It looks like a cross between a creeper vine and a centipede. Both its front and its rear look identical, so it’s very hard to tell which end is which.

People infected with a hirune no mushi lose the ability to swallow, and spend most of their day napping. Without immediate treatment, death is unavoidable.

Treatment is accomplished using mokkō (Saussurea costus) and kakkō (Pogostemon cablin; i.e. patchouli).


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A-Yokai-A-Day: Kaze 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.


Kaze no mushi
風邪の虫

Translation: cold* worm (as in “the common cold,” not temperature)

Kaze no mushi lives in the liver and the spleen. It has a blue-green head (blue-green being the color associated in Chinese elemental theory with the liver) and a yellow belly (yellow being the color associated with the spleen).

Kaze no mushi causes fevers and great thirst. Whether it is the fever and thirst of a terrible cold, or the heat and thirst one feels after sex, it’s caused by this worm.

Kaze no mushi has no patience or self restraint, and it passes that trait on to those who it infects. They overindulge in eating meat (a forbidden food under Buddhist teachings and throughout a good portion of Japan’s history), which causes their skin to become yellow (just like the belly of this worm). They overindulge in sex (another impropriety in Buddhism). Such people are essentially unable to resist their various appetites.

This infection can be treated with ginseng (Panax ginseng) and the stems and roots of Chinese licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis).

*The word kaze is the same as the word for the common cold.


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A-Yokai-A-Day: Tonshi no kanmushi

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.


Tonshi no kanmushi
頓死の肝虫

Translation: sudden death liver worm

Tonshi no kanmushi infects the liver (as do all kanmushi). It has a yellow body covered in black speckles, and at the end of its tail there is a white string-like appendage. It has a red mouth and tongue. The top of its head is black (which looks just like hair in the illustration, although the description of this worm doesn’t really go into further detail).

When a tonshi no kanmushi bites down on the liver, its host will die suddenly. Yikes!

Fortunately, it can be treated! Mokkō (Saussurea costus) is an effective cure.


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A-Yokai-A-Day: Kizetsu no kanmushi

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.


Kizetsu no kanmushi
気絶の肝虫

Translation: fainting liver worm

Kizetsu no kanmushi has big boggly eyes and a long blue body with black speckles.

Infected people experience a string of symptoms. First, they begin to lose their hair, which the kizetsu no kanmushi feeds upon. Then, they experience tunnel vision. Moments later, they suffer from shortness of breath. Finally, they collapse, appearing as if dead.

This infection can be cured with the herb gokō (Origanum vulgare; oregano).


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A-Yokai-A-Day: Akubi 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.


Akubi no mushi
欠伸の虫

Translation: yawning worm

Akubi no mushi is a red worm with a snake-like belly and fine hairs sprouting from its back. It lives in your heart.

When an akubi no mushi infects a person’s heart, that person begins to yawn uncontrollably. Not only that, this worm disrupts the blood flow to the heart, causing intense fatigue and drowsiness.

The cure for akubi no mushi is to drink a boiled concoction made from the galls of Japanese sumac (Toxicodendron vernicifluum).

I would say that I often feel like there’s a bug inside of me making me sleepy, although I usually try to cure that by drinking tea, not tree galls.


If you enjoyed today’s A-Yokai-A-Day entry, please consider becoming a patron and supporting my work by visiting patreon.com/osarusan.