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 hyakumonogatari.com

Inen – The Possessing Japanese Ghost

Funa Yurei

Enju no Jashin – The Evil God in the Pagoda Tree

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5 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.

    Reply

  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.

    [IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v737/sense1/Research/fee_melusine.png[/IMG]

    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..

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

  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.”

    http://hyakumonogatari.com/2010/11/08/secrets-of-the-yokai-ii/

    Reply

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