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The tile engraving which portrayed the figure of Amabie in Edo era.
Amabiko (尼彦?)
Yamawarawa (山童?)

Amabie (アマビエ) is a legendary Japanese mermaid who, it is said, came from the sea and prophesied either an abundant harvest or an epidemic. There are similar mermaids related to her; Amabiko (アマビコ?), (Amahiko (尼彦?), Amahiko-nyudo (尼彦入道?), Amahiko (あま彦?), Amahiko (天彦?), Amabiko (天日子?), Arie (アリエ?) and others.

The legend[edit]

Legend says that Amabie appeared in Higo-no-kuni (Kumamoto Prefecture) in Edo era at midday on April 3, Koka 1846. Every day a shining object appeared just beneath the surface of the sea until the Oyakunin (administrator) of the town went to the coast to see for himself, making the Amabie rise from where until then only light had been seen. From her waist down her body was that of a fish but scales covered all her skin, they were not limited by her waist, her lips protruded like a dome-crowned cylinder. Addressing the Oyakunin the Aamabie identified herself as Amabie and told him that she lives in the open sea, then she made a prophecy; "Good harvest will continue for six years, if disease spreads show a picture of me to those that are ill and they will be cured." She immediately went back into the sea after that. The story appeared in the Kawara-ban (a collection of engraved tiles), and her image was shown in it and was known throughout Japan.

Other specters[edit]

Amahiko (尼彦?) is a merman related to the Amabie. He appeared in the sea of Higono-kuni, and proclaimed there will be good harvest and a disaster would be overcome by showing a picture of him like Amabie. And in Hiuga-koku (Miyazaki prefecture), it is said that a specter named Amahiko Nyudo (尼彦入道 the monk Amahiko?) appeared and left in a similar prediction. In the article of Yamanashi Nichinich Shinbun (newspaper) 17 June in 1876, it reported that the a specter termed as Arie who had similar appearance poked up in Higono-kuni Aoshima gun. In the Yuubin Houchi Shinbun 10 June, there was an article about Amahiko as well. There were three common characteristics: the first being the appearance from the sea, the second being the prediction of the good harvest and the plague, and the third being a solution of disaster by showing the apparition's picture. On the other hand, in Tokyo Nichi-nichi shinbun 8 August, the article which appeared Amahiko no Mikoto (天日子尊 the holly Amahiko?) in the rice paddy Yuzawa machi Niigata prefecture. In Amakusa, the lore existed that Yamawarawa (山童 the mountain child?) appeared in the forest of mountains. The last two did not appear from the sea, but their form was the same.

See also[edit]

Reference books[edit]

  • 水木しげる 『図説 日本妖怪大全』 講談社、1994年、50頁。
  • 村上健司 『妖怪事典』 毎日新聞社、2000年、23-24頁。
  • 湯本豪一 『明治妖怪新聞』柏書房 1999年 196-198頁
  • 湯本豪一 『地方発 明治妖怪ニュース』 柏書房 1999年 174-175頁
  • 『日本の幻獣-未確認生物出現録- 企画展解説図録』 川崎市民ミュージアム 2004年