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Sweets designed after Japanese folklore creature to end epidemic debut in north Japan

A Japanese-style confectionery designed after the traditional folklore creature Amabie is seen in the city of Akita on April 14, 2020. (Mainichi/Kaho Shimokobe)
A cookie with a print of the traditional Japanese folklore creature Amabie is seen in the city of Akita on April 14, 2020. (Mainichi/Kaho Shimokobe)

AKITA -- A local sweets maker in this northwestern Japan city began selling Japanese-style confectionery and cookies designed after a traditional folklore creature that is believed to answer prayers to end epidemics.

Amabie is a "yokai" character that has a shimmering half-human, half-fish body with a beak, which appeared on a newssheet in the Edo period (1603-1868). It told people to share pictures of itself with others to drive away the plague, according to legend.

The character has become famous among those praying for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. A confectionery maker at the company proposed the new products, and they hit the shelves on April 11 priced at 162 yen each.

The company initially planned to make five a day for each of its five stores, but it received many inquiries after an image of the product was posted on social media, so it now produces 200 a day in total. On April 13 the firm went one step further and released its Amabie cookie.

Hirohide Kato, head of the firm's sales department, said, "As the situation in which people cannot go out for unnecessary purposes continues, we hope they will enjoy talking at home while eating these treats."

(Japanese original by Kaho Shimokobe, Akita Bureau)

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