Beautiful vampires of the sea.
Iso Onna Lore
The sky was overcast. The sound of the sea spray hissed constantly in the background, a white noise underneath the fisherman's thoughts. He felt frustrated. Nothing ever seemed to go his way lately. Three times he had gone out to sea, and three times he had returned with nothing. She didn't say anything, but he could see the resentment in his wife's eyes. She had always had unreasonable expectations. Whenever he failed to fill the table with food, she would punish him in subtle ways. Their marriage had always been like that: small, hurtful competitions, invisible to outsiders.
He kicked at the wet sand, small clumps flying outwards toward the rocks. He was just now approaching the rock blinds. It was a section of the beach that transitioned suddenly to rocky outcroppings. Jagged boulders lay about, as if dropped by some giant. It was called the blinds because no one could see you when you stood behind those boulders. An attractive place for many of the local teenagers, for reasons you can well imagine.
As he passed by the narrowest stretch he felt his spine tingle. It was such a strong chill, it pulled him out of his own misery. He instinctively looked behind him but saw nothing, only the jumbled row of sand coloured boulders. He continued onwards, dwelling on that sudden sensation. He had walked here many times, what could have startled him like that? He looked back again, just to be sure, and saw a woman.
She was standing at the edge of the narrow outcropping looking out at the sea. Her matte black hair, slightly damp, flowed down the curve of her back all the way to her heels. Her clothing clung to her and appeared almost transparent from the wetness. It revealed her perfect, pale skin underneath. His eyes rudely lingered on her womanly body - he couldn't help himself. Without really thinking he had already moved towards her. He told himself he wanted to check on her, after all it looked as if she had come straight out of the water. What if she had fallen from her boat? Deep down he knew the truth. She compelled him. She was irresistible.
He stopped just behind her, almost within arms reach. "Hello?" he said. No response. "Are you okay?" he asked a little louder. She slowly turned to face him. She was smiling. Suddenly her mouth opened in a terrible shriek. It blasted through his body, causing sharp pain in his ears. He could see her face clearly now. Her mouth looked like a gaping pit he might fall into. He tried to flee but found he couldn't move at all. That terrible scream still reverberated through his body, leaving his limbs feeble and unresponsive. To his horror, her hair writhed up behind her and lashed out. Strand upon strand wrapped around his legs, his arms, his torso, his face. The strength returned to his body but it was too late. He struggled as hard as he could, panic taking over, as he felt himself being pulled off the ledge and into the sea.
They are called Iso Onna. These "coast woman" are rare yokai that wander the coast line. You are much more likely to encounter one at times of the year when the spirit world moves closer to our physical one. New Year's Even, Obon, or Halloween for example. If you encounter an Iso Onna, you are likely to meet the same fate as that fisherman.
The Iso Onna is a vampire of the sea. They live off the warm blood of their prey, blood they leech out using their hair. Like the siren, they tend to attract men as their victims, using their appearance as a beautiful woman as a lure. You can identify them by focusing on their lower half. Careful observation will reveal that they are slightly transparent below the waist. Iso Onna are often confused with Nure Onna, another kind of female vampire who stalks the coast. Nure Onna use a similar trick, appearing as a vulnerable woman holding a baby to lure their victims. In their true from, Nure Onna appear as serpents below the waist, or even from the neck down. These two types of vampires are not the same species, but they do form alliances as they share the same habitat. Woe to those who encounter the pair!
Iso Onna are powerful monsters. In addition to their striking beauty, they can employ other illusions while hunting. An Iso Onna can make herself appear exactly like a rock, allowing her to blend in with the coastal environment she lives in. They can also be found out in the open sea. There are stories of massive Iso Onna, monsters large enough to smash a ship with their arms. I have travelled to the Kyūshū Islands myself and spoken to many in the region, in an attempt to confirm those stories. It is not clear whether the fishermen are exaggerating, the Iso Onna are creating illusions, or the Iso Onna really do exist in giant forms on the open sea.
Written by Giles Ravensong.