In My Commonplace Book: Japanese Ghost Diseases

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As some of you know, I keep a commonplace book and it is the very reason I started this blog. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the concept or would like to learn more, I wrote about the brief history and use of commonplace books in Dirge Magazine.

I consider myself a lifelong learner and I am, like all of us living in a digital world, constantly bombarded with interesting information. The commonplace book provides a way to capture and reflect on the (spooky) things I learn everyday. My commonplace book is strictly about the occult, so I thought I might share what I’m writing about in it on the blog each week.

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This week, I filled my commonplace book with Japanese spirits that cause infection and diseases. 

Long ago in Japan, human illness was caused by tiny creatures that crawled into your body and wreaked havoc. According to one source I found, there was a book written in 1568 titled Harikikigaki (author unknown), which delineated 63 of these types of creatures and ways to fight them off with herbal remedies.

Another source and a favorite of mine provided details on these types of spirits (although not necessarily outlined in the book mentioned above). Yokai.com is an online encyclopedia on Japanese ghosts and demons with beautiful illustrations and detailed entries. You can easily get lost in there for hours.

I filled my commonplace book with notes from this site, and wanted to share the most interesting ghost disease I came across.

So, the GYŌCHŪ is a intestinal worm with six arms and red tongues. It is sexually transmitted and lives and breeds in the host’s sex organs. It reproduces on Kōshin night (from the ancient Kōshin religion), which occurs every 60 days. On these nights, the Gyōchū left the bodies of their hosts to visit the King of Hell (and Judge of the Damned). These worms were very gossipy and would tell the King all their host’s sins. The King of Hell would then punish hosts for their sins. To avoid having this gossipy worm in your body: don’t have sex on holy nights.

Commonplace book exercise for this week: Check out Yokai.com and take some notes on some of your favorite yokai. 

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