A-Yokai-A-Day: Yō no kameshaku

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.

Yō no kameshaku

Translation: yang turtle shaku

Yō no kameshaku inhabits the stomach. As its name implies, it resembles a turtle.  It also clearly has some connection to yang energy, although Harikigaki does not specify what that is. It has a speckled red shell with a circular pattern on the top of it. Its head has a blue umbrella-like growth on its head which protects it against any medicines that its host might ingest. (We’ve seen these kind of umbrella hats on other infectious yokai, such as the hizo no kasamushi.)

Yō no kameshaku feeds upon cooked rice that its host eats. Its victim stays thin no matter how much they eat. (I wonder how many mukbang YouTubers have yo no kameshaku in their stomachs…)

To extermine yō no kameshaku, Harikigaki recommends eating the peas of the pongam oiltree (Millettia pinnata). These are praised as being effective like nothing else against this shaku.

The reason for the pongam tree’s effectiveness is fascinating. To be eaten, the peas of the pongam tree must be removed from their shells. Once removed, the pea itself carries a residual memory of being removed. The kameshaku, upon eating the pea, also receives that residual memory. Because the blueish umbrella-like headpiece somewhat resembles the shell of the pongam tree’s pea, the kameshaku becomes overcome with the desire to remove his umbrella–just as the shell of the pea was removed. Once this happens, he loses his resistance to medicine, and the infected host can then take medicine and be cured!

This critter is a good example of a popular theory of magical and pseudoscientific treatment in which like cures like. It’s an interesting branch of magical thinking found all over the world, from Chinese elemental theory, to European quackery such as as homeopathy, and in New Age mumbo jumbo as well.

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