Shoki, who is also known by his Chinese name Zhong Kui, is one of Japan’s heroes. He is not a gorgeous man, rather he is rugged and large, a little wild with a huge and hulking body, feared and fearsome. He has a long beard, angry and piercing eyes and Shoki is not scared of anything or anyone. It is for this reason he is revered. Shoki can get rid of demons and control demons, and as a superstitious tool, the Japanese want him around.
Shoki is the demon queller. He can exorcise demons and those that he exorcises become his servants. The Japanese believe in demons and believe myths and folklore from ancient times, and if they can have a God who will exorcise their demons, they want that too.
Shoki wears long robes that flow at the same time as his long beard. He carries a sword, as fierce as his eyes. He garners respect by wearing a court official’s cap, although his eyes, strength and fierceness garner respect anyway.
Shoki is a good luck charm for the Japanese. There are several paintings of him, and sculptures, and the Japanese people like to keep them in their homes. Sketches of Shoki are on flags on scrolls and on screens. The sculptures in particular are found on the rooftops in Kyoto, and like any good luck charm, can be found in stores throughout Japan.
Many Japanese parents like to keep a small sculpture of Shoki in their child’s bedroom, as he protects against illness and disease. Shoki could have been, and would have been, a great medical doctor, but his application was refused despite his knowledge. He was not considered to be good looking enough.
Shoki’s dreams were shattered when he could not become a doctor and killed himself on the steps of the very Emperor’s palace who had denied him. As a gesture, Shoki was offered a posthumous award, and he slowly reinvented himself as a protector of all.