By now, you’ve probably heard of Amabie, a plague-fighting monster from Japan that originated a few hundred years ago. According to an old Edo-period tale, the half-human, half-fish emerged from the sea and proclaimed a prophecy; “Good harvest will continue for six years from the current year; if disease spreads, draw a picture of me and show the picture of me to those who fall ill.” This tale appears in a handful of variations across Japan, but each is connected by the monster’s proclamation that if a picture of Amabie is drawn and shown to those who fall ill, the sickness will soon pass.
Up until February of 2020, there had been no mention of Amabie since an 1881 newspaper article quoting a sighting of the beast almost four decades earlier, but when COVID-19 took a hold of Japan the monster was reborn and quickly became a hot topic on SNS sites. To begin with, illustrations of the fish-like yokai popped up across twitter and instagram as a countermeasure against the coronavirus, and it wasn’t before long that companies we’re incorporating the monster into their branding and product designs.
The appearance of the creature as logos, prints on clothing, toys and food items, may not have put a swift end to COVID-19, but it has certainly united the nation and sparked intent to tackle the virus together.

Over the last few months there has been a decrease in the portrayal of the monster across all industries, and one would be forgiven for thinking that Amabie had perhaps returned to the depths of the sea, but behind the scenes the monster still has a good number of believers who trust in the original prophecy.

In the latest attempt to put an end to COVID-19, an illustration of Amabie will be launched into outer space as a prayer for the eradication of the virus.

The journey is being organised by Space BD Co., Ltd, a ‘space trading’ and research company that sends various objects such as materials, photographs and illustrations into outer space with their ‘Space Delivery Project’. These objects are launched into space, exposed to the outer atmosphere, and then returned to earth where they are collected and distributed to museums and research centers. The idea to launch Amabie into space as part of the program is an original initiative by the company, who hopes that in doing so, COVID-19 will come to an end.
On the 6th of September 2021, a prayer was made at Enoshima Shrine for the safe launch and return of an aluminium plate engraved with the image of Amabie. The aluminium plate will be attached to the outboard exposure platform of the Japanese Experiment Module known as ‘Kibo’ on the International Space Station. There it will spend about 6 months in exposure to outer space before returning to the ground. After being recovered, the plate will be dedicated and exhibited at Enoshima Shrine.

Space Delivery Project ‘Amabie’ Schedule

September 2021: Aluminium plate handed to JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)
Sometime during 2021 (date TBC): Aluminium plate transported to Kibo and the International Space Station. To spend 6 months exposed to outer space aboard the station.
June 2021: Aluminium plate will be collected and returned to earth by a special supply ship. Upon return to earth, the plate will be displayed at Enoshima Shrine in Kanagawa Prefecture.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.