•About this charm•
Akamimizuku – 赤みみずく or just "Red Horned Owls" - Origin: Tokyo Area.
A weighted paper mache Daruma-doll-like Owl who just wont fall over no matter which way you push em! - it will tip, then turn right back up! its quite reliable that way! whats more, is that it was said that it could protect you from going blind! -
• About the "Red treatment":
Smallpox was a fatal disease for children (Adults too, but children got it more commonly.) and to which at the time, there was no effective treatment. Diseases in general where said to be spread by youkai: yakubyō-gami (plague gods), hōsōgami (smallpox gods/demons), or tōki (pox devils) among others. - The auspicious colour red was believed to have the power to repel these evil spirits, so when a child became sick: red coloured items where put up by the bedside and they would pray for their recovery. this is commonly known as "the red treatment." - Red folk toys where popularly kept around to ward away disease. (mostly smallpox but other things too.) Small pox patients/doctors/priests would often also wear red when performing treatment (another reason why you see Jizo statues are often adorned in the Colour. and why these toys often appear on childrens kimonos patterns) - Red inked prints called "Aka-e" (or "Hoso-e") became popular during the smallpox epidemics of 1830-1849 (Around the same time our friend Amabie & other 'warding/prophetic yokai' started to appear & began to be used as charms as well!!) The "Aka-e" woodblock prints where meant to be burnt, sent down the river, or simply kept on the person, for these reasons there are very few left in existence today!! (they fetch a pretty penny when shown to the right collector too.)
Daruma wears red to begin with, as such he wound up being a common theme for these Aka-e prints, (Many folk heroes such as Momotaro, KIntaro and Shōki the demon queller is often featured as well.) - I digress: These toy Owls from the tokyo area where often associated with Daruma dolls as they both have large, ever staring eyes and dont fall over.) - More directly, It was often said that The large round eyes of these owls would specifically protect you from the risk of blindness due to smallpox (Their belly pattern changes depending where it came from. [mine was inspired by the ones in the Edo-Tokyo museum.])
it should also be noted- that this 'red treatment' was largely ineffective and in the end: the smallpox demon was eventually defeated by the vaccination. (it was put into law that you had to take it (in 1885) after that, the vaccine itself became considered as the new "hoso-gami" – I'll elaborate on that in more detail when i eventually draw my own take on 'hoso-gami.'
...So, if you ever wondered why Celeste from animal crossing is red? it might not just be an aesthetic choice! ;)
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky (yo thats me!) - Part of my AkaE folktoys collection, weather-resistant 4" Glossy sticker. Check my shop & follow @samkalensky for many more!