Amabie – Drawing a Yōkai to Ward off Epidemics

Amabie The Yōkai
Drawing a Yokai to Ward off The Coronavirus Pandemic

Recently a friend of mind told me about an interesting phenomenon going on right now involving a little-known Japanese Yōkai named Amabie (アマビエ).

Yōkai are spectral creatures from Japanese mythology that generally affect the lives of humans in both fortunate and unfortunate ways. In modern culture they have manifested themselves in various forms of media in Japanese society. The anime Ge Ge Ge no Kitarō (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎), and the popular game series of Yo-kai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ) are two examples that quickly come to mind.

Right now, thanks to the global Coronavirus outbreak, the yōkai names Amabie is getting a lot of love. She has a very particular legend attached to her name. According to Japanese mythology when Amabie last appeared she announced that if there was ever an epidemic that everyone should draw a picture of her and show it to the world. Because of this everyone is drawing her likeness an posting to social media. Various online sites are writing about this Yōkai and the effect of her legend on people during the Coronavirus.

Here is a better account of her tale according to Spoon & Tamago: “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. 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.”

I decided to join in on the fun and create my own version of Amabie to show off to the world. I had a lot of fun learning more about the legend of Amabie, seeing what other artists had created, and bringing it to my own work. My version of Amabie is a vector graphic, created in Adobe Illustrator. I wanted her to be a strong heroine, with a look of empathetic defiance towards the epidemic. I also decided to give her a monikered medical mask for safety as she fights against the virus.

I think that drawing Amabie together is a great way to share a sense of community and connectivity during a time of necessary social distancing.
Here is my version of Amabie:
Amabie Drawing of a Yokai