Hosogami are smallpox spirits. (Hoso is smallpox in Japanese.) For safe recovery to health, the Hosogami must be soothed, propitiated, and sent on their way. Hosogami are pleased to see the color red. Physicians were glad to see the color red, too:
• Purple smallpox rashes indicate the illness is in a dangerous stage.
• If and when rashes turn red, the patient is expected to recover.
The person suffering from smallpox and those caring for him dressed in red to appease the Hosogami. In addition, “red prints” or hoso-e prints, paper wall amulets were posted at the first hint of smallpox to propitiate, avoid, and/or banish the illness. They’re called “red” because that’s the primary color of these prints. If no print is available, red banners may suffice. Following the patient’s recovery, these prints were traditionally ritually burned or floated down rivers to signal the departure of the spirit. Extremely few survive and these are now extremely valuable collector’s items.
Daruma and Shoki possess the power to expel Hosogami and are among the spirits portrayed on red smallpox talismans.
Rice with red adzuki beans
Daruma; Kami; Shoki
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.