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  • #2457
  • East Asian East Asian (culture)
  • Aquatic Aquatic (attribute)
  • Sorcery and Medicinal Sorcery and Medicinal (attribute)
  • Neutral Neutral (behaviour)
  • Merfolk Merfolk (common type)

The Ningyo is a Mrmaid from Japanese folklore. It is described as being half carp, half human. It has the tail of a fish with the long arms and the face of a human. Its scales are white or shine with brilliant gold. If a Ningyo is washed up on shore after a storm then this would foreshadow an imminent war. The Nignyo could not speak but instead it made a sweet whistling sound of a flute. There have been some cases where the Ningyo could talk and it did so to trick its captors and break free. Capturing the Ningyo was said to bring bad luck to its captor. The most magical aspect of the Ningyo is its flesh. It is believed that by eating its flesh one would live for a very long time.

There is a story about one local fisherman who caught a Ningyo in his net with a whole load of fish. He tired to sell the Nignyo as food but no one would by it as their were repulsed by the sight of the creatures monkey or human-like face. One half drunk man bought some flesh of the creature and gave it to his 16 year old daughter. His daughter happily ate the food and from that point onwards she aged at a very slow pace. It seemed that she wasn't aging at all and in her long life she married many a man and had many children. She lived long enough to see her husbands and children die. This amounted to too much grief that she decided to take refuge in Buddhism. She became a Buddhist nun and after hearing some teachings she retreated to a cave for quiet meditation where she grew old and died. It is believed that she lived to 800 years old and is thus known as Yao Bikuni meaning ‘800 Nun’.

There have been many sightings of the Ningyo as early as 619. In 1610 a British captain spotted one off the port of Sentojonzu. he described it as having the face of a woman on the body of a fish that had a dorsal fin running across its back. In 1929 a local fisherman caught one of this animals in a net. He said that it looked like a fish with the head of a dog. The Ningyo wriggled and broke free from the net before darting back into the sea. There have been many specimens kept that have been stored in wooden boxes and put on display. In 1825 one entertainer put a Ningyo on display in a fair in London. The audience was at first shocked but those who got a closer look realized that the Mermaid was in fact a ordinary woman who had scales intricately and painstakingly sewed on.

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Does Ningyo Exist?

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If there's something that I've missed or would like to add then please let me know and I'll update the article. If you've seen this creature in films, TV, computer games, books or even old stories, please post a comment.