Mythical Creatures in Writing, Part II.
Every culture has a mermaid, and the Japanese call them ningyo. With the head of a human and body of a fish, they are starting to sound familiar, right? No, the ningyo also cry pearls. Suddenly I’m visualizing the scene from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory with the golden goose, but replaced by ningyo. Okay, I admit that’s going a bit far, but hey, those pearls must be worth a bit.
- Hold your breath, for she dwells deep beneath the sea.
What is it?
Traditional Japanese mermaid and it’s said ningyo can foretell the future.
Ability / Power
Ningyo have are a number of abilities, depending on which story you read. So creativity is a must here if placing a ningyo in your story. Some of these are:
– Eating their flesh attains longevity, but, and there’s always a but, hunting one will bring on storms and misfortune
– They can shift shape, hence are shape-shifters. I’m guessing they could change into human or fish form
– As mentioned above, they cry pearls
– They guide lost fishermen, and will tell your future
Giant fish body with a human face and long hair. There are some records that show them with horns or fangs, and many times the creature is portrayed as grotesque and disfigured. They are not beautiful like sirens, but creepier. Of course, this has been altered in different stories / movies.
Appearances In Fiction
- The manga/anime series, Mermaid’s Scar and Mermaid Forest by Rumiko Takahashi is based on the Happyaku Bikuni myth
- Ponyo in the film of the same name is a ningyo or “human-faced fish”.
- In the Siren series, The Legend of Yaobikuni refers to a woman who ate the flesh of a merman and was cursed with eternal youth.
- One of the “monsters of the day” in Tensou Sentai Goseiger is “Jogon of the Ningyo”.
- Seto no Hanayome (My Bride is a Mermaid) are a manga and an anime based with mermaids many of the main characters being mermaids.
- The CCG and roleplaying game Legend of the Five Rings has Ningyo characters as members of the Mantis Clan.
This list is not extensive, but only a representative of what I found.
Did you know? Ningyo means both mermaid and doll or puppet, depending on whether the o in the Japanese word is long or not.
Previous Mythical Creature Posts:
Mythical Creatures in Writing, Part I – Marchosias – a kick-ass creature.