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Meet Amabie: the pandemic-defeating monster bringing hope to Japan

Japanese Twitter is alive with images of a duck-billed mermaid yōkai from Edo-era folklore with the supposed power to see off the coronavirus

As coronavirus spreads across the world, there are a few rays of hope following in its wake. From mass singalongs in locked-down Italian towns to the UK’s #chasetherainbow campaign – which sees crayoned and painted rainbows beaming from windows – the idea of communities coming together while social distancing has become a beacon of hope for us all.

In Japan, a country that has yet to enforce social distancing or announce an official lockdown, that hope has taken the form of a yōkai – one of a number of supernatural monsters and apparitions that have captured the Japanese psyche for centuries, appearing in everything from Edo period (1603-1868) woodblock prints to modern-day manga.

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