Hoso Kami (疱瘡神)

Hoso Kami (also pronounced as Hoso gami, Hoso shin) is an apotheosis of hoso (smallpox), and is a kind of Yakubyo-gami, a deity for the transmission of epidemics. Like Binbo-gami (Deity of poverty), Hoso Kami is often depicted as an elderly in rags with a torn uchiwa (round fan) in one hand.

It is believed that it appears from nowhere on a straw boat, and enters the dreams of humans to haunt them. Those who are haunted by this Yakubyo-gami suffer from bad diseases such as smallpox and measles, and many die from high fever.

Since there is a tradition that Hoso Kami dislikes dogs and the color red, some regions had a custom of displaying dogs made of paper as a 'charm against Hoso Kami' or use a picture of Shoki (the Plague-Queller) drawn only in red as Omamori (a personal amulet). Additionally, many villages had a custom (Hoso Kami okuri) to prevent disasters from becoming serious by worshipping and entertaining Hoso Kami in order to convince them to pardon the villagers.

Hoso Kami is often worshipped with a stone pagoda erected at the edge of the village like Koshin-to Tower. Many who suffered or had a family member suffer from smallpox in the past prayed to these stone pagodas to ease the suffering from smallpox as much as possible, but when smallpox decreased radically with the spread of vaccination, such customs became obsolete as well.

Additionally, an increasing number of them were considered an obstacle for road expansion or housing development after the war, and were transferred to nearby temples and shrines or were torn down.