the online database of Japanese folkore



Translation: none; this is its name
Habitat: the sea

Appearance: Arie are prophetic aquatic yōkai. They have bulbous bodies covered in shiny scales and somewhat resemble sea lions. They walk on four legs, and have long, thin tails. Their long necks stick straight up out of the center of their bodies, and they have manes of long hair.

Behavior: There is only been one recorded arie sighting, so little is known about these yōkai. They live in the ocean, they can speak and deliver prophecies, and they are powerful good spirits whose image alone is enough to drive away evil disease spirits.

Origin: The only known arie sighting was reported on June 17, 1876, in the Kōfu hibi shimbun. The article was printed along with an illustration of the arie. Their story is virtually identical to that of many other aquatic prophetic yokai which appeared in the latter half of the 19th century, including amabie, amabiko, jinja hime, and many others. Just like these others, arie emerge from the sea to deliver a dual prophecy about a bountiful harvest followed by an epidemic of disease, and then instruct people to copy their image before disappearing shortly after.

Legends: A strange creature was sighted in the waters off of Higo Province (present day Kumamoto Prefecture). After nightfall, the creature emerged from the water and began walking to and fro along the roadside, calling out to people. The passersby were scared, and so nobody approached the creature. Eventually the flow of traffic died out.

A government official heard the rumors about the strange creature, and went to see it for himself. When he approached the creature, it spoke to him: “I am the leader of the scaled beasts of the sea. I am called arie. The arie went then foretold a six year bumper crop, and an outbreak of cholera. He instructed the government official that anyone who hangs up its image and prays to it would be protected from the disaster.

After delivering its message, the arie retreated back into the sea.

Alphabetical list of yōkai