Mascots, or yuru-kyara, are incredibly popular in Japan. There are yuru-kyara for everything, from sports teams to prefectures to a toilet disinfectant (seriously). Now they're offering the world a mascot for the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The yōkai (supernatural being) Amabié was first described in 1846, during a series of severe epidemics in Japan. It has three legs, a fish-like body, and the head of a bird with long, flowing hair. The original story goes that Amabié was spotted by an unnamed man on top of the ocean waves, glowing with a strange light. It gave its name to the man and prophesied a good harvest. Then Amabié said, "Should an epidemic come, draw me and show me to those who fall ill and they will be cured,” and disappeared into the water, supposedly never to be seen again.