Small mythical creature with an ocean background

April 8, 2020


Hello Dear Culture Clubbers,

We are living in interesting times… but we are not the first people to experience something like this. Throughout history, people have faced plagues and pandemics of influenza and cholera. Knowing this history actually gives me more hope for our current situation; we will get through this and return to some kind of normalcy. Let’s look to history to see what people before us have done to cope with these times.

According to Japanese mythology, during a Cholera pandemic in 1846, a yokai - or spirit - appeared in the sea near Higo Province, now Kumamoto Prefecture, of southwestern Japan. There had been a glow coming from the water for days. An official of the town went to see what it was all about. A yokai appeared, it had the scaled body of a fish, the beak of a bird, long flowing hair and three lower limbs. The yokai, called Amabie, predicted 6 years of good harvest. This was good news, but the official told the spirit that many people in the province were sick. Amabie instructed that to heal the sick, the people of the town were to draw pictures of it and show them to anyone who was sick. An image of the yokai was printed in the paper in hopes of healing the sick.

In early 2020, images of the Amabie started appearing on social media as the Covid19 pandemic began to spread around the world. The modern Amabie takes many forms and has the possibility of reaching more people than ever. The Amabie images serve to unify us across cultures, across countries, across oceans, as we work together to slow the spread of the virus.

This week, we will create our own Amabie to share with each other and the world. Join me at 4:00 on Zoom and bring whatever supplies you can get your hands on… pencil and paper? Digital tools? Collage? A bird mask and a wig? Personally, I would enjoy seeing a performance piece inspired by the story...

Yours in Solidarity,


P.S. Remember to share your creations with us on social media! Use the hashtags #amabieCVA #CVAcultureclub.

Featured Artists


Artwork created by students of Ogura Sensei at the Denver Japanese School.



Images, left to right, top row: illustration by Shunsuke Satake; illustration by Konatsu_tunacan
Middle row: illustration by Kobayashi Yoshikazu; illustration by @hashisan on Twitter
Bottom row: cardboard sculpture by Odaka Masaki: doll by Dapper Moose Studio

Snacks and Drinks:

We've thrown the rules out the window and are having brunch for happy hour! Comfort food has a universal appeal, especially in times of distress. When looking to the comforts of other cultures, you might be surprised to find familiar things with fresh twists. We're excited to try these Japanese versions of traditional American brunch recipes.


Japanese Style Pancakes
Who doesn't love pancakes? These extra thick and fluffy hot cakes are incredibly popular in Japan. We can't wait to dive into a plateful of these beauties!

Matcha Detox Drink
This is the most refreshing looking drink, ever. These ingredients are going on our shopping list right now!

Ginza Mary Cocktail
This twist on a traditional brunch cocktail adds sake and soy sauce for a bit of Japanese flair.