As legend has it, in the 1800s a mythical yokai appeared off the coast of Kumamoto, Japan. The Amabie, as it was called, was described as a mermaid-like creature with long hair, a beak and 3 legs. It made several predictions related to bountiful harvests and, before disappearing back into the sea, left the locals with some advice in case of an epidemic.
(top image: the original edo-era tile carving, courtesy Kyoto University Digital Archives)
Freelance illustrator Shunsuke Sataka created this colorful, vintage style Amabie print.
According to records, “If an epidemic occurs, draw a picture of me and show it to everyone,” said the yokai. The advice was perfectly worded for our current, social media-driven world. The legend recently resurfaced in Japan and, sure enough, everyone began creating their own artistic version of the Amabie and posting pictures to social media.
Manga artist Mari Okazaki’s Amabie has a divine presence
We love graphic designer Norio Nakamura’s interpretation!
Manga artist Keiichi Tanaka’s drawing of Amabie
Pattern-makers Tetetextile created a series of Amabie wallpapers for your smartphone.
Cartoonist Sensha Yoshida created this caricature of an Amabie
Illustrator Izumi Sakuan created this edo-era-inspired drawing of a fictional Amabie Festival in which a child dresses up as the yokai.