Umakan is one of the 63 scary germs written in Harikikigaki, a book of medical knowledge written by an unknown resident of Osaka.

The Umakan is said to be the source of heart problems. It can only infect people if they are outdoors when the sun is out, or in the presence of fire. The creature is describe as horse-like and can only be treated with acupuncture.

 In the Harikigaki

Japan’s Kyushu National Museum holds a copy of the Harikikigaki — a 16th century medical text of unknown authorship which claimed that diseases were caused by tiny bugs that crawled into the body. The Harikikigaki advises using acupuncture and herbs to deal with the bugs.

The Belief

Until the late 19th century, Japanese people believed illness was spread by evil kami called yakubyogami. At first these gods were thought to take human form, but later, influenced by thinking in texts from China, some people came to think of them as little creatures as small enough to enter the body. The Harikikigaki, written in 1568, is mostly about acupuncture, however, this rare text includes 63 color depictions of the various mushi (germs) believed to cause diseases.

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