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Pikachu designer dedicates illustration of folklore character Amabie to west Japan shrine

Designer Atsuko Nishida is seen holding an "ema" tablet with an illustration that prays for the end of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the western Japan city of Nara's Kasuga Grand Shrine on Oct. 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Mizuki Hayashi)

NARA -- The Japanese designer behind the popular "Pokemon" character Pikachu visited the Kasuga Grand Shrine in this western Japan city on Oct. 5, and made an offering of an "ema" woodblock tablet with illustrations of Amabie, the folklore "yokai" creature said to ward off plagues, and a white deer.

    Designer Atsuko Nishida had been wondering if there was anything she could do since the early stages of the novel coronavirus outbreak, and her proposal was brought to life with the help of an acquaintance. She said that she was fond of deer from a young age, and always wanted to draw an illustration of one.

    The illustrations, which use the colors of white and red to represent the Kasuga Grand Shrine, has a design that is intended to "make the viewer feel warm and comfortable." After dedicating it to the shrine, she commented, "It's the first time for me to make an offering to deities, and it was very refreshing. I'd like for children to become energetic and cheerful."

    The ema with Nishida's illustrations went on sale on Oct. 6, and one costs 1,000 yen.

    (Japanese original by Mizuki Hayashi, Nara Bureau)

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