'Akabeko' red cow figure becomes coronavirus fighter(赤べこで新型コロナウイルス退散)

An akabeko figure stands in front of the main building of Aizuwakamatsu city hall.(会津若松市役所本庁舎に登場した赤べこ)

 "Novel coronavirus, disperse! Everyone, let's do our best together!"
Along with this message, an akabeko, a traditional red cow statue from the Aizu region in Fukushima Prefecture, wearing a large mask, has been placed in front of the main building of Aizuwakamatsu city hall, where it will be displayed on weekdays during business hours until the outbreak is over.

 「新型コロナウイルス退散! 市民みんなでがんばっぺ!」。そんなメッセージと共に、大きなマスクを掛けた会津地方に古くから伝わる郷土玩具赤べこが、会津若松市役所本庁舎に登場した。感染症終息まで平日昼に設置されるという。

 There is a folklore surrounding the akabeko that says that when the smallpox epidemic broke out in the Aizu region, only the children that had an akabeko were left uninfected. The black spots on the cow are believed to be traces of blisters caused by smallpox, shielding the children from the epidemic.
 After recalling the tale, a municipal employee brought out an akabeko that had been kept with in a warehouse.


 When the akabeko was seen at the city hall on the morning of April 22, visitors smiled at its adorable appearance. A woman in her 40s said, "It's even wearing a mask, and it makes me smile to see how it has been cherished. I hope this pandemic goes away soon."


 Hanitsu Shrine in Inawashiro, Fukushima Prefecture, honoring Masayuki Hoshina (1611-1673), the first lord of the Aizu clan in Edo period (1603-1867), has made it possible to download free images of the akabeko amulets on Twitter and other social media sites with hopes of ending the new coronavirus outbreak. "If you make it your smartphone's home screen, you may feel your anxiety ease, even a little bit, through the power of the akabeko," said Shigetsugu Miyazawa, this shrine's negi (junior priest), 35, who made the amulets.


 "I hope that our daily lives can return to normal and that we can brighten the darkness in our world," Miyazawa said, referring to the spread of the disease in Fukushima Prefecture and the state of emergency.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2020年4月23日、24日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】