Edo Period Ghost "Amabie" Popular in Japan amid Virus Crisis

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, March 12 (Jiji Press)--Amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Japan, "amabie," a kind of yokai, or ghost, which is believed to have the power to ward off pestilence, is proving popular on Twitter.

Many people have posted on Twitter their drawings of amabie, which attracted widespread popularity during Japan's Edo period. People's minds "have not changed much from the Edo period," which lasted for more than 250 years from the early 17th century, a researcher said.

Amabie has a cute look, with scales and long hair, according to Eishun Nagano, head librarian at the Fukui Prefectural Archives in the central Japan prefecture of Fukui, who is well versed in yokai.

A legend says that the mermaid-like yokai emerged from the sea off the Higo domain, now Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, and told locals: "You would have good harvests for the next six years. In the event of a plague, draw picture of me and show them to people."

"As a charm to fend off a plague, many illustrations of ghosts with similar stories were drawn" back in that time, Nagano said. Images of such ghosts were copied as woodblock prints and sold in times of poor harvest and epidemics, according to Nagano.

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