A-Yokai-A-Day: Subakuchu

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Subakuchu
寸白虫

Translation: sun* white worm

Subakuchu is a long worm with a dragon-like face and a forked tail. It doesn’t have a fixed home; it travels back and forth between the abdomen and the scrotum. Ordinarily it spends its time stretching left and right around the belly, wriggling up and down below the diaphragm. However, when its host’s body becomes cool, it slithers down into the scrotum and coils itself up, remaining motionless.

Patients infected with a subakuchu suffer from acute bouts of abdominal pain once or twice a year. The longer the subakuchu gets, the more dangerous it becomes. By the time it reaches 15 meters in length, the patient is sure to die.

Subakuchu can be treated with acupuncture, although it is difficult to recover from. The trick for treating this infection is a secret, and is only passed down orally.

*A sun is old Japanese unit of measurement equal to about 30.303 millimeters. From the name, I would guess this worm starts out just over a few cm or so in length, and from there grows to its deadly length of 15 meters. Or, perhaps the segments that we can see in the illustration are each one sun in length. If so, a 15 meter subakuchu would have roughly 495 segments! Nothing in Harikikigaki explains the origin of its name, so it’s just my best guess.


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