Iso Onna

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The Iso Onna ( いそおんな  )

 

First of all I want to thank Honey and Ether Photography for agreeing to do this shoot for the Iso Onna. The four of us were on the same page on how this look would be done to make sure that it reflected what is written in the lore from Japan.

According to Japanese legend, the Iso Onna, or “Coast Woman” is a kind of dangerous vampire who looks for fishermen to feed upon.  Unlike other figures in this kind of lore, her appearance can vary depending on how she attempts to attract her prey.  Typically she is described as a “beautiful woman who comes out of the water with sultry eyes,” and is usually depicted wearing lightweight clothing, such as a white kimono or some other kind of cloth, and has long black hair.  She is closely related to another Japanese mythological youkai known as the “Nure Onna,” but she differs from this yōkai in part by lacking snake-like features.  

 

The Iso Onna is said to be found at sandy and rocky beaches, and near sea-side cliffs.  Once she mesmerizes her prey, they will either come to her willingly because of her hypnotic voice, or they will be stunned by her ear- piercing scream. She then drags her prey into the water where she feeds on her prey. Unlike vampires from western lore who drain their victim’s blood through their bite, it is said that the Iso Onna drains her victim's blood through binding her prey in the tendrils of her long black hair.

 

The story of the Iso Onna is captivating, and this look was a fun one to put together.  I used a white kimono and tied it closed with a white heko obi to evoke depictions of the Iso Onna as shown in Japanese woodblock prints, and I wore a long black wig. I already had the fangs in my mouth from a previous character shoot, and I thought it would help communicate the idea of a vampire to western audiences who may not otherwise understand that the Iso Onna is considered to be a vampire. 

Thank you to Tangerine Mountain Imports and Designs for assisting me with obtaining the kimono and heko obi for this look.