The Shocking Mystery of Japanese Mermaids

putri duyung

Mermaids are legendary creatures found in the high seas with a human upper body and a fish tail on the bottom. They have featured in many folktales around the world to become very cute characters in fairy tales. Many cultures around the world such as the Near East, Europe, Africa, and Asia claim to be home to these aquatic creatures. Mythically, they have various magical abilities such as foreseeing and causing disasters, causing ships to sink, creating storms, and luring sailors to doom. Many sailors around the world have claimed to have seen mermaids.

Mermaid docks in Japan have their own ancient traditions. It's no surprise since Japan is a country that is surrounded by the sea. These creatures are known as Ningyo (人魚), literally "human fish," and also Gyojin (魚人), meaning "human fish," and Hangyo-jin, (半 魚人) or "half-human fish." Several stories of humanoid fish circulated over the centuries, but the first record was reported in 619. During Empress Suiko's regime, it is alleged that a mermaid was captured and presented at her court. It is said that this creature was kept in a tank for the visitors' entertainment.

Mermaids are commonly thought of as beautiful maiden bodies and fish tails with shiny scales. But this westerner's story of mermaids is far from the story in the Japanese region. Before the influx of western mermaid influences, Japanese mermaids were depicted as ugly and angry monsters. The only striking feature in her portrayal is her hair. Mermaids are often depicted as having long, shiny hair.

The Japanese mermaid better known as Ningyo is often referred to as a cross between a fish and a monkey. Its arms are scaly and tipped with hooked claws. Japanese mermaids are often said to have only a humanoid, ape, or reptilian head with sharp teeth an intact fish body, and no human body. These mermaids' heads often look deformed, horned, or have prominent fangs or rows of pointed teeth like sharks.


Mermaids of Japanese origin are depicted in a scary and evil way. Some of them have white skin and high musical voices that sound more like flutes or skylarks. Just like mermaid creatures in other myths, Japanese versions of mermaids have mystical powers, which they never use for good. It is believed that Ningyo cries pearly tears. There are some legends that women who consume mermaid meat have magically stopped aging or returned to a younger, more beautiful form.

Merfolk from Japanese folklore is said to have shape-shifting abilities. There are many examples of mermaids transforming into humans or other creatures. A good example is a case in the 1870s where the lighthouse keeper at Cape Nosaapu in northeastern Hokkaido was believed to be captivated by a mermaid. Mermaids were thought to disguise themselves as beautiful kimono-clad women on the beach who would seduce and lure people into the sea. Once the lighthouse keepers were enchanted, Ningyo then transformed into giant jellyfish and killed the foolish keepers who swam with them.

Mermaid sightings were a common phenomenon in the early era from the 16th to 19th centuries and were considered a fact, not just a figment of the imagination. A modern account of a mermaid sighting was recorded in 1929 when a fisherman named Sukumo Kochi caught a fish-like creature in his net that had a human face but a dog's head. The creature then broke free from the net and escaped. During World War II, mermaids were a frequent sight, mainly in the warm waters of Okinawa. The Japanese naval personnel reportedly shot at these mermaids but no bodies were found to prove the claim. These reports were made by high-level military officials, so it is difficult to know the truth of such reports.

Western explorers have also reported several reports of Ningyo sightings. A British captain saw a mermaid from the pier at Sentojonzu harbor. But this mermaid was described as a creature with a woman's head and a fish underneath. There are many accounts of mermaids in the logbooks of Western sailors. Some captains are known to avoid places that were once famous hunting grounds for Ningyo, so they no longer encounter these creatures.

Do Western sailors see what fishermen drag in their nets? It would certainly undermine credulity to suggest that experienced sailors would routinely see mermaids due to being influenced by fake sights. Is there perhaps something more going on here?

Fishermen and sailors may have seen Ningyos as a reality but there are more clues to their existence in ancient encyclopedias of Japanese wildlife. In the encyclopedias, these mermaids are described as true aquatic creatures. One of the best examples can be found in the works of Keisuke Ito. He was an esteemed physician who brought Western medicine to Japan. He was known to make realistic sketches of all marine life that were arranged and sorted as zoological catalogs. Realistic sketches of mermaids with realistic images of other animals and correct anatomy.

Unfortunately, whether or not Japanese mermaids are real is yet to be determined. There has been a decline in sightings after the 1800s and very few modern people support Ningyo's existence. Perhaps there are mummified mermaids that have long been forgotten or have become extinct from the face of the Earth.

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