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May 18, 2018

The God of Smallpox (Housougami) (Ep. 18)

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Welcome to May’s Uncanny Japan. In this episode I talk about the God of Smallpox (housougami/疱瘡神). Come listen to the beliefs in this fearsome god and how dogs and the color red kept him at bay.

In the above picture you can see a child sick with smallpox and all the talismans placed around him for protection. Notice all the red and the taisha, too.

hoso e tai sha

The above photo is of an aka-e (red picture) of a taisha (sea bream car).

tametomo woodblock by yoshitoshi 1890
Above is the samurai Tametomo scaring away the God of Smallpox.


The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (“Yi Gui” from Ting Shuo). The whole album is just gorgeous as it everything else by FM3.

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About The Uncanny Japan Podcast

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from old Japan—strange superstitions, folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing.

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