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Ningyo ( Japanese 人魚 , dt. "Human fish") is a fish-like creature from the Japanese popular belief. The term is often translated as mermaid .

According to the description, her mouth resembles that of a monkey, her teeth are small like those of a fish with gold-shining scales and she has a calm voice, similar to that of a skylark or a flute. Their meat is tasty and supposedly gives immortality to anyone who eats it. Catching a ningyo is said to cause storms and bad luck. Therefore, it was said that accidentally caught people should be thrown back into the sea. A ningyo washed up on the beach was considered an omen of war and great misfortune.

Happyaku Bikuni

One of the most famous folk tales is that of the Happyaku Bikuni ( 八百 比丘尼 , German "eight hundred [ -year- old] Buddhist nun "), also read Yao Bikuni . The story is about a fisherman from Wakasa Province who once caught an unusual fish. Since he had never seen such a fish in all his years, he invited his friends to inspect the meat.

One of the guests saw the fish's head in the kitchen. He saw that it had a human face and warned the others not to eat. However, the fish was already prepared, so everyone took a piece to dispose of on the way.

However, one was drunk on sake and forgot to throw his part away. When he got home, his little daughter asked for a present, and the husband carelessly gave her the meat. When he came to his senses, he tried to keep his daughter from eating for fear of being poisoned, but it was already too late. Since nothing bad was happening, however, he no longer worried.

Years passed, the girl grew up and got married. From now on she did not age anymore and kept her youthful face while her husband grew older and eventually passed away. After marrying and widowing again and again, the woman became a nun and wandered the country. Eventually she returned to her homeland in Wakasa, where she ended her life at the age of 800 in a cave near the Kūin Temple ( 空 印 寺 , Kūin-ji ) in what is now Obama .

The Ningyo of Ehon Sayo Shigure

Igyo from the Ehon Sayo Shigure

In the 2nd register ( 二 之 目録 ) of Ehon Sayo Shigure ( 絵 本 小 夜 時 雨 , dt. "Picture book of the nocturnal rain") by Hayami Shungyōsai, under Naniwa Higashibori ni Igyo o Tsuri ( 浪 華東 堀 に 異 魚 を 釣 , dt . "The catch of the strange fish in the east channel of Naniwa") from the Edo period a story about the catch of an igyo ("strange fish"). In 1800 a 3 shaku (90 cm) long fish was caught in the Nishibori Hirano machi of Osaka . According to the book, he is considered a kind of ningyo . He had a human face, the scales of a big head mullet, and the voice of a toddler. With Shigeru Mizuki it is found under the name Hatsugyo ( 髪 魚 , dt. "Hair fish").

Individual evidence

  1. 近藤 瑞 木 (Mizuki Kondō): 『百 鬼 繚乱 - 江 戸 怪 談 ・ 妖怪 絵 本 集成』 ( Hyakki Ryōran. Edo Kaidan, Yōkai Ehon Shūsei ). Kokusho Kankōkai, Tokyo 2002, ISBN 4-336-04447-3 , pp. 108-109
  2. 水木 し げ る (Shigeru Mizuki): 『【図 説】 日本 妖怪 大全』 ( (Zusetsu) Nihon Yōkai Taizen ). Kōdansha , Japan 1984, ISBN 4-06-256049-6 , p. 361


  • Shigeru Mizuki: Mujara 5 . Soft Garage, Japan 2004, ISBN 4-86133-027-0 , p. 49
  • Shigeru Mizuki: Mizuki Shigeru no Nihon Yōkai Meguri . JTB, Japan 2001, ISBN 4-533-03956-1 , pp. 90-91