Mythical 16th-century disease critters

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Long ago in Japan, human illness was commonly believed to be the work of tiny malevolent creatures inside the body. Harikikigaki, a book of medical knowledge written in 1568 by a now-unknown resident of Osaka, introduces 63 of these creepy-crawlies and describes how to fight them with acupuncture and herbal remedies. (…)


Koseu (Kosho), a snake-like critter with a scruffy white beard, wears a hat that protects it from medicine. It likes to drink sweet sake and it can speak.


Kiukan (Gyukan) lives in the chest and acts up at meal time. This critter is difficult to get rid of, but acupuncture is an effective treatment.

Kishaku is a dark red beastie that causes its host to develop an unhealthy appetite for oily food. It can be stopped by eating tiger stomach.

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