Cultural References

Happyaku Bikuni
Mythology & Folklore

taken from Wikipedia.org

The Japanese folktale, Happyaku Bikuni (The Eight-Hundred Year Buddhist Priestess) is the story of a fisherman who captures a mermaid while out at sea. Upon returning to his village he cooks the mermaid, and plans to feed it to his friends. One of the fishermans comrades sees the mermaid's face while it is being cooked and privately warns the others not to eat the "fish". Instead they hide the meat in their clothes intending to throw it away on their way home.

One man makes the mistake of drinking too much and accidently gives the flesh to his daughter when he returns home. The girl eats it, but no ill effects seem to befall her. Years pass and the girl marries and soon it becomes apparent that she is no longer aging. Decades pass and the girl out lives many of her husbands, become a widow many times over. Eventually she decides to become a Buddhist nun and makes pilgramages to many countries. After having lived for eight-hundred years, the girl returns to her village in Wakasa Prefecture and goes into a cave to die.

Relevance to Mermaid Saga

This legend is the basis for the entire story of the Mermaid Saga. Many elements from the legend are replicated in Takahashi's story including the fisherman (Yuta), the immortal girl (Mana), and the priestess' impressive 800 year lifespan (shared by Masato, the oldest immortal in the series).


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