Amabie is a mermaid-like yokai that is said to emerge from the sea and prophesy about an abundant harvest or an epidemic. Its description varies. By some reports, it has scales like a fish from the neck down. Others say it is more bird-like or even ape-like. Usually, it has three legs.
The most famous story goes like this. In 1846, during the Edo period, a strange shining object was seen in the sea off the coast of what is today Kumamoto Prefecture. An official went to investigate. A creature appeared and prophesied,
"I am an Amabie which dwells in the sea. For the next 6 years, various provinces will have an abundant harvest, but an epidemic will also occur. If that happens, quickly show people a drawing of me."
Interestingly, the account was recorded and sealed with a hanko and entered into the official records. Do you think it really happened?
Today, during this coronavirus epidemic, the Japanese government has started a campaign using the Amabie as a mascot.
Here is the poster put out by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.
Look at it closely and stay safe!