City Lit Blog

Amabie Album by City Lit’s Japanese language students

Story added 20th Apr 2020


City Lit’s Japanese language students have been inspired to share unique drawings of a legendary figure from Japanese myth in an effort to stand up to COVID 19 through the collective joy of creating and learning together.

Amabie is a Japanese figure in the tradition of a mermaid or merman who emerges from the sea to prophesise an abundant harvest or future disease. The legend of the Amabie originates from a news story of the eighteen hundreds in Kyushu. Based on a sighting made by a local government official, a creature in the form of a mermaid or merman figure was reported to appear with a prophecy and promise of protection, informing the official that:

‘Good harvest will continue for six years … (but) if disease spreads, show a picture of me to those who fall ill and they will be cured’.

The association of the strange Amabie figure as a cure for disease has now gripped the popular imagination of Japan in the context of the pandemic. Drawings of the Amabie have flooded Twitter and Instagram, attracting artists not only from across Japan but around the world to share their personal images of Amabie as a positive act of connection against the virus. It’s a trend I quickly embraced to include in my new ‘online’ Japanese classes from March, combining the idea of drawing Amabie with learning vocabulary, expressions and culture. The results have been amazing. The beautiful drawings produced by over 60 of my students are a testament to the diverse talents of City Lit’s community of learners and their determination to create in the face of adversity. Nothing can stop the power of learning!

Chika Nakagawa – Japanese tutor at City Lit 

Amabie Album by City Lit Japanese students


Japanese online courses at City Lit

Japanese courses at City Lit are the perfect way to start your journey to learn or develop your existing knowledge of the Japanese language. You can now study in the comfort of your home with our online courses.

Browse our Japanese online courses here

Meet Amabie

Read more about Amabie: the pandemic-defeating monster bringing hope to Japan in this article by the Guardian