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Gyōchū

Gyouchuu, Kitai, Mimimushi蟯虫
ぎょうちゅう

TRANSLATION: intestinal worm; pinworm
HABITAT: the genitals

APPEARANCE: Gyōchū are infectious yokai with six arms and long red tongues. They are extremely fond of chatting and gossiping. They live and reproduce in the sex organs, making them a sexually transmitted yōkai. Gyōchū reproduce in the sex organs on Kōshin night, a holy night which occurs every sixty days in the esoteric Kōshin religion. Gyōchū leave their hosts on these nights and visit Enma Daiō, the king of hell and judge of the damned. They tattle on their hosts, telling all of their dreams, desires, and sins to Enma, who will inflict his divine wrath on them accordingly.

INTERACTIONS: There is no treatment for a gyōchū infection. The only way to keep safe from this infection is to avoid any chance of contracting an infection by abstaining from sex on Kōshin night. Traditionally, Kōshin night is reserved for praying. Believers gather together and refrain from sleeping for the whole night, so faithful practitioners should have no problem avoiding contracting gyōchū. People who have sex on these holy nights are committing a grave sacrilege, which the gyōchū will report to King Enma. During the feudal era, terrible diseases (leprosy, for example) were believed to be divine punishments for those who disrespect the gods.

Today, the name gyōchū refers to the pinworm.

Sanshi

Sanshi三尸
さんし

TRANSLATION: the three corpses; the three spirits
HABITAT: inside the human body
DIET: unknown

APPEARANCE: The sanshi are three spiritual worms found inside of humans. Each is about 6 centimeters long. These worms live in their hosts from the moment they are born to the moment they die. They work hard to cause their hosts to do evil things.

INTERACTIONS: The names of the sanshi are Jōshi, Chūshi, and Geshi, meaning upper worm, middle worm, and lower worm.

Jōshi lives in your head and looks like a Taoist wise man. He is responsible for making your eyes grow weak, creating wrinkles, and growing white hairs. Chūshi lives in your torso and looks like a wild beast. He is responsible for damaging internal organs, making you overeat and overdrink, and causing bad dreams. Geshi lives in the lower half of your body and looks like a human foot with a cow’s head. He drains the will and shortens the life of his host.

The number 60 is an important number in Chinese astrology, and every sixty days the sanshi leave the body to visit the King of Heaven while their host human sleeps. They report their host’s wicked deeds for the year to king. Depending on this report, the King of Heaven shortens each human’s life span by a certain amount.

To escape the King of Heaven’s sentence, Kōshin practitioners do not sleep every 60th night, so the sanshi are never able to leave the body and give their report. Additionally, spells and charms are chanted to prevent any harm done by the sanshi. The following spell is said to defeat the sanshi’s power:

ホウコウシ、ホウジョウシ メイコシ シツニュウヨウメイイチュウ キョリガシン

Finally, if you find yourself drowsy and unable to stay awake, the following spell must be chanted before falling asleep to prevent harm:

シヤムシハ、イネヤサリネヤ ワガトコヲ ネタレゾネヌゾ ネネドネタレルゾ

Shōkera

Shoukera精螻蛄
しょうけら

TRANSLATION: mole cricket spirit
HABITAT: rooftops, temples; only appears every sixty nights
DIET: wicked humans who try to outsmart the gods

APPEARANCE: The shōkera is a very large, dark-skinned, three-toed demon which spends most of its time lurking about on rooftops. Not much is known about this fearsome beast aside from its hunting practices, though it is believed to be some kind of demon with connections to Kōshin, an esoteric Japanese folk religion with origins in Taoism.

INTERACTIONS: Shōkera only appear on Kōshin-machi, a special night in the Kōshin faith which occurs every sixty nights. A shōkera spies through windows, doorways, or skylights in houses, watching for the inhabitants to do wrong or impious things, after which it pounces down in a vicious attack. Because Kōshin is no longer a very widespread religion, and because victims of shōkera attacks would only be implicating themselves as wicked by admitting to seeing one, little else is known about the shōkera’s specific mannerisms.

ORIGIN: According to Kōshin, there are three spiritual worms or insects, called the sanshi, which live inside every human body. Every sixty nights, on a special night called Kōshin-machi, these worms leave the body while their host human sleeps. The sanshi travel to Heaven to report on the good and bad deeds of their human. The emperor of Heaven then uses this information to lengthen or shorten people’s lives according to their deeds. While good people have nothing to fear from Kōshin-machi, the wicked might try to circumvent having their bad deeds reported by staying awake and reciting prayers all night long during these special nights so that the sanshi cannot leave the body. The shōkera lurks about on rooftops during these nights, peering into windows and hunting for anyone violating the laws of heaven in this way.