Japan has a mascot for just about anything and a global pandemic doesn’t stop those creative impulses. There was, earlier this year, the introduction of an official quarantine mascot who came out of the shadows of obscurity to shine once more. Additionally, an old Edo-era monster, known as a Yokai, has been gaining popularity for its strange historical basis and promise made to the people of Kumamoto. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Quaran: The Quarantine Mascot
Quaran, the quarantine mascot, is not new. It finds itself mostly at the airport, where it helps protect Japan from illegal goods, infectious diseases, and prohibited foods. For most of its life, this is where it resided, with its safety goggles and shield to help quarantine people and goods trying to sneak their way into Japan without meeting the proper requirements. It also uses its know-how to advise Japanese citizens traveling abroad, as well as acting as the hype-man to promote the Quarantine Information Office (a branch of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare). Now, the brainchild of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has its moment to shine, encouraging people to avoid the streets, wear masks, and prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Japanese Monster (Yokai) Amabie: Disease Prevention
This next one is a deep cut, indeed! While its origins date back to the Edo-period, Amabie was recently rediscovered in the Kyoto University Rare Materials Digital Archive just over a month ago (just in time for when it was needed most, really!). The story on this old woodblock print is as such:
In 1846, the creature made its appearance off the coast of modern-day Kumamoto prefecture, down on Kyushu island. It came out giving predictions for good harvests and parting with a really great promise: If its image is drawn and shown to others, it can help during an epidemic.
Since the discovery, images have been floating around Twitter of this helpful mermaid-esque monster. It has even inspired candies and donuts taking its form, as a way to help invoke its power to combat the Novel Corona virus we now face. I personally am finding it hard to resist ordering those donuts online; I’m a sucker for donuts!
And there we have it! One mascot and one psuedo-mascot monster putting in their time to help raise spirits and spread helpful information during a troubling time. Which of the two mascots do you find most endearing? Let me know in the comments!