Kami (神) is a Japanese word for the spirits worshipped in the Shinto religion. According to Wikipedia, they can be elements of the landscape, forces of nature, and beings, as well as qualities that these beings express. They can also be the spirits of the venerated dead. Many Kami are considered the ancient ancestors of entire clans. Traditionally, great or sensational leaders like the Emperor could became Kami.
According to the BBC, the nature of Shinto as a faith should not be misunderstood. ‘Shinto.’ is often called the ‘Japanese religion’, and has had a major influence on Japanese culture and values for over 2000 years. But some writers think that Shinto is more than just a religion – it’s no more or less than the Japanese way of looking at the world.
Because ritual rather than belief is at the heart of Shinto, Japanese people don’t usually think of Shinto specifically as a religion – it’s simply an aspect of Japanese life. This has enabled Shinto to coexist happily with Buddhism for centuries.
Shinto is involved in every aspect of Japanese culture: It touches ethics, politics, family life and social structures, artistic life (particularly drama and poetry) and sporting life (Sumo wrestling), as well as spiritual life.
Many events that would be secular in the West involve a brief Shinto ritual in Japan – for example, the construction of a new building would involve a Shinto ceremony.
Although most Japanese follow many Shinto traditions throughout life, they actually regard themselves as being devoted to their community’s local shrine and Kami, rather than to a countrywide religion.
So many Japanese don’t think that they are practicing Shinto nor are followers of the Shinto religion, even though what they do is what constitutes actual Shintoism, rather than theological or academic Shinto.
Akkorokamui (アッコロカムイ,) according to cryptidzwikia, is a gigantic part-human-part-octopus monster from the Ainu ancestors as well as Shinto folklore. This is a creature which lurks in the Funka Bay in Hokkaidō, Japan, and has been sighted in several other locations including Taiwan and Korea for hundreds of years.
According to the Shinto mythology, this creature is human-like and contains a bright red color. The 19th century account by John Batchelor confirms this. His book, free here, The Ainu and Their Folklore, provide many details of the creature. It states that it was 120 meters in length. The book specifies that the red color of the Akkorokamui a striking red, seemingly “likened to the color of the reflection of the setting sun upon water.”
The Akkorokamui is also characteristically described with the ability to self-amputate, like several octopus species, and regenerate limbs. This characteristic manifests in the belief in Shinto that Akkorokamui has healing powers. Consequently, it is believed among followers that giving offerings to Akkorokamui will heal ailments of the body, in particular, disfigurements and broken limbs.
Once, spirits cursed Rebunge, a villager of Abuta Toyoura, with destruction of his town. They sent a part-spider-part-human creature, Yaoshikepu (ヤオシケプ), to fulfill the curse. Yaoshikepu caused rampant destruction throughout the town, slaughtering so many that the streets were filled with crimson blood. After hearing the townsfolk tremble with fear, the sea kami, Repunkamui, transformed Yaoshikepu into an octopus, and cast her into the sea.
After Yaoshikepu was cast into the sea, she began to grow, eventually beginning to consume larger prey, such as whales and ships. One day, Akkorokamui gobbled up a boat full of fishermen. In her stomach, they called for help. Hearing the cries, Repunkamui poisoned Akkorokamui, causing her great pain. As Akkorokamui hollered in agony, the fishermen escaped. However, Akkorokamui learned to harness the venom, using it to attack her prey. In a 1800s sighting, John Batchelor stated that as the monster attacked the ship, it “emitted a dark fluid which has a very powerful and noxious odor,” confirming the myth’s truth! :))
Writing Prompt- The healing powers of the Akkorokamui
According to livescience Octopuses (this is the correct plural for octopus) have three hearts and blue blood; they squirt ink to deter predators; and being boneless, they can squeeze into (or out of) tight spaces. They are quite intelligent and have been observed using tools.
The Akkorokamui is a sacred beast. A healing sage. What is bigger or more sensational than that? A creature that still has all of the attributes of the sea creature, but is holy and benevolent?
Your writing prompt is; The Akkorokamui is living directly off of the coast of where you live. How do I know? You’ve sensed him. You are also Kami, and important, influential and dominant in the region. Who are you? (This will take research, because regions in Japan have specific dominant Kami.)
You find yourself in cahoots with Akkorokamui since there is a new spirit in town causing all matters of ill to the people. What is your special strength that can aid or hinder the Akkorokamui? Do you find yourself a conduit for good or for evil?
Or, what is more likely…do you find yourself living in the grey area, and why?
If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story -let me know how it continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!