Nure Onago – The Soaked Woman

Translated from Mizuki Shigeru’s Mujara

In Tsushima in Nagasaki prefecture, when the rain falls at night, the bakemono known as the Nure Onago appears. The Nure Onago can appear near any body of water, from a small pond to the ocean. Her entire body is drenched, and she is soaked from the top of her head to the tips of her toes.

The Nure Onago can be found in several parts of Japan. In Nuwa in Ehime prefecture, it is said that you can see her hair stretched out and floating on the surface of the ocean, and it is from there that she appears. In the Uwa district, the Nure Onago doesn’t come from the ocean, but it is said that she appears from a soaking wet mop of hair.

The Nure Onago always has a wicked smile, and laughs hideously. If by chance you hear her and, thinking she is just a regular woman amused at something, should laugh along with her, then she will attack you swiftly and without mercy.

In Kagoshima prefecture, in the cape of Tajiri where the famous festival for the god Ebisu is held, there is a similar yokai. They call her the Iso Onna (Beach Woman), and like the Nure Onago she is soaked head to foot. The Iso Onna appears anywhere there is sand, either on the actual beach or inland if there is sand. The main different between the Nure Onna and the Isa Onna is the lower half of their bodies. The Isa Onna is said to have no lower half, but instead is formed like a snake below the waist. Both the Iso Onna and the Nure Onago are types of the yokai called Nure Onna.

Most depictions of the Nure Onago show her as being nothing different than a regular human woman, dripping wet. The Nure Onago is a relative of the Hari Onna (Needle Woman) from western Japan.

Translator’s Note

Mizuki Shigeru’s depiction of the Nure Onago is quite different than most portrayals.  Mizuki’s description is more in tune with the name Nure Onna 濡女子 which means literally “Wet Woman-child” or “Soaked Woman-child.” The related Nure Onna is traditionally drawn as a snake with the head of a woman.  She is also sometimes described as carrying a small child (odd considering the lack of arms) which then turns out to be a bundle of leaves.  This story is taken directly from the Ubume legends.

Further Reading:

Read more yokai tales on

Inen – The Possessing Japanese Ghost

Funa Yurei

Enju no Jashin – The Evil God in the Pagoda Tree

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. LediaR
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 03:43:48

    Reblogged this on Mysterious Japan and commented:
    An insightful piece from a fellow blogger. I just adore Japanese culture.
    PLEASE MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT Toshidama’s blog, THE ORIGINAL BLOGGER’S POSTS. They were kind enough to let me share this wonderful article with you.


  2. Bill Ellis
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 06:48:43

    Sounds like a relative of the European Melusine, who also has the body of a serpent, though in this case from the waist down rather than the head down.


    A quick check of references also shows that this character also is always associated with water in European lore and often is understood as a “nixie” or water spirit..


  3. Zack Davisson
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 09:34:43

    They are very similar! It’s interesting how certain monsters are universal. I read a cool book once–can’t remember the title–about how most monsters are some form of chimera, merging humans with animal parts. That would account for a universal snake woman, but that both the Melusine and the Nure Onago are water creaters is even more interesting.


  4. Jose Prado
    Jun 28, 2013 @ 02:17:03

    How do these Yokai come to be? Are they drowned women?

    Or like the Llorona (Wailing Woman) of Spanish countries they are woman who killed themselves and their children.


  5. Zack Davisson
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 16:05:26

    They don’t really “come to be.” Most yokai are always yokai. There are some humans that transform into yokai, but that is rare.

    Check out this post for “How Yokai are Born.”


  6. Jamie
    Oct 19, 2015 @ 00:36:15

    I could swear this is reminiscent – but not identical – to a story of a Japanese ghost or yokai I had heard of before, but cannot find now. I wonder if it will ring a bell if I describe it?

    The conceit is that it was or would portray itself as a beautiful woman, perhaps in need of help, who would lure unsuspecting victims to their death by drowning, typically in a river. Presumably either it’s just plain cruel, or she herself had drowned and never been put to proper rest and was lashing out because of that.

    Either way, it is a bit similar to western legends of the Kelpie or maybe a variant on the Siren I guess, but it wasn’t so much that it mesmerized the victim like the latter, and more that it simply convincingly tricked them – possibly with shapeshifting, more like the Kelpie. I’d compare it to a shapeshifting kitsune since they often took the form of a pretty woman to trick people, but the Kelpie seems a more apt comparison, because of the specificity of “luring them to their death by drowning”.

    It’s not terribly dissimilar from the funa-yurei, in that it is probably an onryo, and it tries to drown a victim, but it had nothing to do with boats and wasn’t to the best of my knowledge, often related to the sea: it was people on foot that it lured in, and again, usually in a river. There’s also the fact that it was in particular a woman or a lovely woman, which the funa-yurei stories aren’t nearly so specific on; additionally, this story that I recall related that of a single entity, not a swarm, which is what I gather the funa-yurei are usually portrayed as.

    It is actually driving me a little nuts, because I could SWEAR I read this somewhere, but I can’t find the exact story anywhere tonight so far and have to give up due to needing some sleep. I don’t know if my mind is mixing different stories together (I’m ADHD so it’s not impossible), or…if it’s just an obscure sort of story that I’m not finding the right words to search for it with. But I feel convinced at this point that it was a story I had read somewhere, that had those basic details, and was supposed to be a Japanese story, and an older (folklore-type) story at that. Any help would be appreciated!


    • Zack Davisson
      Oct 26, 2015 @ 10:59:43

      That sounds like one of the variations of the Nure Onna / Nure Onago legends. There are many different takes on these, and the “soaked woman” is a common motif, often mixed with other monsters like the funa yurei or the ubume.

      Yokai are more flexible than most people think. The stories change over the years, and merge with each other.

      Check out this story, which features an ubume legend and a river crossing. She would hand people her baby asking for help, but the baby would then get heavier and heavier until it drowned them in the river.


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