Kodoku (蠱毒?, worm toxin), also called kodō (蠱道?, worm path), kojutsu (蠱術?, worm technique), and fuko (巫蠱?, divination worm) is a type of poisonous magic found in Japanese folklore. It is the Japanese derivative of the Chinese Gu magic.
To create kodoku, sorcerers would mix several insects in a jar, and let them kill one another until only one survived. The fluids of the insect that survived would be used to poison an individual with a curse that would control them, cause them misfortune, or kill them. The remaining insect could also be used as a sort of "luck charm" granting the one who performed the ritual great wealth. In return the owner is supposed to feed the bug. Neglecting to do so would enrage the insect, if the owner does not equivalently repay the insect by placing all his or her riches beside a road, plus interest in gold and silver, the insect would devour the home owner. Therefore, this ritual could also be used as a death curse by giving the riches to an ignorant individual. The term "kodoku" can also be applied to the spirit which is the incarnation of this particular magic (which usually appears in the shape of a worm or other animal). The technique was used in the Nara Period.
- The technique plays an important role in the first part of the 1985 historical fantasy novel Teito Monogatari. The protagonist Yasunori Katō is a master of kodoku magic and uses it to manipulate his victims. The insect spirit is represented as a worm which lives in the stomach of the victim.
- The term "spiritual kodoku" is used in the anime Ghost Hunt for a curse technique in which spirits are trapped like insects are in traditional kodoku practice. A dominant spirit devours the weaker spirits until it has enough power to kill the target of the curse. The only way to stop the curse is to "feed" the spirit as compensation.
- In InuYasha the main antagonist Naraku creates a kodoku inside a mountain to gather and merge hundreds of yōkai to form a new body for himself.
- Kodoku Experiment is a science fiction manga from Yukinobu Hoshino where a kodoku is being created on a planet filled with ferocious monsters.
- Kodoku is used in the anime Fushigi Yûgi (Episode 18) as a drug to change the personality of one of the major protagonists, Tamahome.
- The Kagewani from the anime of the same name is a shadow creature that was created through kodoku using several different animals instead of insects.
- In Ōsama Game: Kigen, a manga prequel of Ōsama Game, the culprit behind a murderous game is subsequently revealed to be a virus, created through kodoku by Natsuko Honda's ancestors.
- The idea of Kodoku is a central motif to the plot of the manga BIOHAZARD Heavenly Island, where it is used by the main antagonists to develop a new B.O.W.
- Kunimitsu, Kawamura. "Tsukimono." Encyclopedia of Shinto. http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.php?entryID=792
- "Jaki ni Ochita Kikyō to Inuyasha" 邪気に落ちた桔梗と犬夜叉 [Kikyo and Inuyasha, Into the Miasma]. Inuyasha. Season 2. Episode 5 (in Japanese). June 25, 2001.