March 31, 2020

Amabie, An Ancient Healing Spirit Is Back in Japan: Only This Time, on Social Media

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.

PNG image Dixieby 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.

PNG image 2

by illustrator Akira Otsuka, SUNDAYS GRAPHICS from Japan


PNG image 3by illustrator Larissa from Spain

amabie_aiby Ai from Japan

Amalie ichinogiby illustrator Itinogi from Japan  


amabie fuyuyuki satoby Fuyuki Sato from Japan

amabie_6 hanamekoby Hanameko from Japan

PNG image Marco by designer Marco Albiero from Italy

amabie_toshikoAmabie of Chigiri-e, created by Instructor Toshiko

If you would like to take part, don't miss our black and white drawing downloadable here!amabie_japanese creations 2



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