Written by Kumiko Toya
We are not making light of this difficult time and anxiety the world is facing, but we all need some kind of relief to lighten our day a bit. A fun little challenge of Japanese illustrators posting Amabie (ah-mah-bee-eh) pictures in hopes of bringing about a cure for the pandemic appeared on Twitter in late February.
A wood-rock print news sheet featuring Amabie in April, 1846. Courtesy of Kyoto University Main Library
According to legend, a mermaid-like creature emerged off the coast of Kumamoto in Kyushu region, an Island of the southwestern part of Japan, in April of 1846. She had long hair, a mouth like a bird's beak, three legs, and covered in scales from the neck down. A courageous government official went to greet her. She identified herself as Amabie and delivered a prophecy: “Good harvest will continue for six years from the current year. If an epidemic occurs, draw a picture of me and show it to everyone and they will be cured.” Then she returned to the sea. The story, along with the portrait of Amabie, was printed in the local bulletin.
by artist Peachydixie from United States
The movement is rapidly spreading as "#Amabie Challenge"; professional and amateur artists all over the world creating and posting their own version of Amabie on social media. People are doing that to provide a sign of hope that we will get through this tough time. We are all in this together.
by illustrator Akira Otsuka, SUNDAYS GRAPHICS from Japan
by illustrator Larissa from Spain
by illustrator Itinogi from Japan
by Fuyuki Sato from Japan
by Hanameko from Japan
by designer Marco Albiero from Italy
Amabie of Chigiri-e, created by Instructor Toshiko
If you would like to take part, don't miss our black and white drawing downloadable here!