For those who are fascinated by Japanese culture, or who have a kid who watches the cartoon Yokai Watch, the concept of yokai, spirits in Japanese mythology that influence different everyday phenomena, isn’t a new one. But you may not be aware of a little-known yokai whom the COVID-19 epidemic has brought into the spotlight.
First written about in the 1840’s, Amabie is said to be a three-legged combination of a longed-haired human woman and a fish, with a bird’s face. In the first account of an encounter with Amabie, it was said that a member of the local government of Kyushu Island was told by the yokai that an illness was coming to the island. It could be warded off if the man simply drew her and then told others to carry the images with them, as well. The man listened and even had his drawing published in a newspaper, so that it could keep an even larger number of people safe.
Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging around the world, Amabie has become a popular figure on social media. You can find drawings, as well as sculptures and even tattoos, of her that have been made by artists around the world, celebrating the spirit and hoping that she will keep us all safe.
Read on to learn more about the origins and original appearance of Amabie. And check out this collection of recent Amabie drawings. You can also find Amabie images on social media platforms including Twitter and Instagram, by searching for the hashtags #amabie or #アマビエ.
And if you like to draw, yourself, why not create your own image of Amabie to hopefully keep you and your loved ones safe?