Mermaids appear in the folklore of many seafaring cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Africa and Asia. Tales of this mythical creature could be found dated back thousands of years ago all carrying the similar image of a beautiful young woman with the lower torso of a fish. Often, the mermaid been associated with misfortune or calamity being blamed for sea storms, ship disappearing and drowning of men. Even stories of relationships with human lovers end with tragedy. There a few legends with a darker adaptation of mermaids such as the iso onna of Japan.
The iso onna is a dangerous yokai said to dwell along the beaches on the western coast of the country. Legends tell this creature was once human in life being a woman who met her end either by here own hand or from a jealous lover. Her body lands up in the sea never to receive a proper funeral resulting in her restless spirit becoming a iso onna. This yokai thirsts for human blood, hiding out among the rocks of beaches generally luring fisher man or travellers to feed on.
The description of iso onna varies between legends, however the common detail is a wet, beautiful woman appearing as she just emerged from the water. She would be sitting on the beach or amidst some rock with soaked clothing tethering tightly to her body. Such a sighting was just the beginning the iso onna employed in baiting men. If a male was to take notice of her she would entice them to come closer by singing or invite them to join her.
Any man to approach the iso onna would quickly discover the woman they just met had lower half was misty or ghost like by then his fate been sealed. The yokai’s hair would lash out to entangle her victim to either be strangled to death or pulled out to sea. Iso onna would start to drain the man’s blood through her hair and throw the remains out to sea. In some legends, she would memorize men to walk to their deaths off cliffs to feed upon their bodies. On the rare occasion, ison onna would travel inland to hunt prey when nothing else was available along the coast.
In most legends of yokai, means of defeating the creatures are mention, but for the iso onna there is little to offer. The spirit could be ward off with rituals and talismans or sealed away in a near by rock. The best advice give is to avoid or keep a safe distance from beautiful wet women who are alone on a beach.