The ningyo are Japanese mermaids, but they’re different from the pretty, western versions many of us are used to. They’re often described as monkey-mouthed, half-human-half-fish creatures. And these poor things are famous for being eaten.
For good reason, their flesh is both tasty and leads to astonishingly long life.
Now, Japan has some pretty weird shit in their waters, and the ningyo are no different. Catching them are believed to bring on storms and bad luck, so they’re often thrown back. And washing up on shore warns of oncoming war or disaster.
But of course, if one’s lucky enough to sample mermaid meat and get a taste of the ningyo, they’ll be rewarded with immortality. Seems like a storm or catastrophe is a small price to pay.
Several fictional stories utilize this myth in their story-lines, like Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid Forest or the Mermaid Saga, an anime/manga series that centers on Yuta who ate mermaid meat and lived for more than five-hundred years and searched for a cure to the more common side effects of this treat: death or becoming a damned creature known as a Lost Soul.
And its origins come from Yao Bikuni, a myth that depicts a young woman eating some after getting drunk at a party, and she stayed sixteen for over eight-hundred years before she became a nun and died in a cave.
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