Have you ever fantasized of becoming a mermaid? Here’s the answer to your longtime dream. (Finally!) Rising Asia, a Japanese tour company, is offering a package tour to people who want to live out their maritime fantasies. They are giving them the chance to dress in colorful mermaid tails where a photographer captures their photos so that everyone can go home with a cherished experience.
Mermaids are fish-like creatures known as “ningyo (人魚)” in Japanese. It didn’t look pleasing to the eyes as people in the past described it as having its mouth look similar to that of a monkey, having small teeth, and its voice sounding like a flute. According to Japanese folklore, it was a pure sign of bad luck when this creature was washed ashore as it was a sign of an impending war or disaster. On the other hand, some people believed that eating its flesh contributes to the longevity of life, thus they were so eager to catch them for this purpose.
There’s actually one famous Japanese folklore story regarding mermaids entitled “Yao Bikuni” or “Happyaku Bikun.” The story unfolds with a fisherman catching a strange fish. He invited his friends over to eat the flesh as it was something he has never seen and tasted before. However, one of the guests peeked into the kitchen and saw that the fish had a face of a human. He immediately warned the others not to eat it! They pretended to eat the main course while secretly wrapping it in paper but one of them forgot to discard it on the way home. Upon arriving, his daughter demanded a present from him and he gave her the fish without thinking about it. When he realized his mistake, it was too late as his daughter have already finished it. The man was so worried that she would be poisoned but nothing really major happened. As the years passed by, the girl married but then stopped aging and looking old. She married several times and became a widow over and over again and finally decided to become a nun. At the age of 800 years, she went back to her hometown and decided to end her life.
Nowadays, most people think of mermaids as attractively possessing a human face, an upper body with a fish tail, and long beautiful hair. In a more modern sense, the popularity of Ariel, Disney’s mermaid princess who made her dream come true by becoming a human and marrying a human prince, is something almost everyone knows. Her fairy-tale story is something surreal which every girl probably dreams of.
Rising Asia Inc. is a company founded by Kenji Miki (三木健司) in 2014. Miki was inspired by Masayoshi Son (孫正義), the founder of telecommunications company SoftBank and Japan’s most famous entrepreneur. He dreamed of creating the biggest business in the world. When he went to Thailand, he was unfortunately stranded as he was robbed and he only had his iPhone and the clothes that he was wearing. He had no friends there and didn’t speak their language as well.
Having no money left with him, he tried working for a store by bringing tourists in as they were being paid a cash kickback. He was able to bring Japanese tourists into the shop and with his earnings, he moved into a hostel and then a beach house where he started making simple Japanese websites. This led him to giving tourists information about the area, meeting with them, and touring them around the town.
Several months later, he was able to save money and he finally flew back home bringing with him his new idea. His guided tours in Thailand gave him a big income per month which steered him into putting up Rising Asia in Japan in January 2014.
Rising Asia is trying to tap into the world of mermaid enthusiasts by creating “mermaid tour” services that will help tourists live out their maritime fantasies. Currently, they are offering two different mermaid tours in Okinawa (沖縄), Japan:
- Become an Okinawan Mermaid ☆ Photoshoot Tour (沖縄のマーメイドになりましょ☆人魚姫姿で写真撮影ツアー) *Japanese only
- Irabu Island, Okinawa Prefecture Mermaid Experience + Photoshoot + Snorkeling (《沖縄県》伊良部島でマーメイド体験＋撮影＋シュノーケリング) *Japanese only
These two tour packages essentially offer the same activities – from dressing up to posing as a mermaid and having memorable pictures taken by a professional photographer who ensures to put together a top quality photoshoot. The difference only being that the second one’s venue is specifically on Irabu Island and with an additional snorkeling experience for an extra cost, of course.
The first package with just the photoshoot experience will approximately take an hour long to finish and costs 10,000 yen per person, while the second package with the snorkeling experience will take much longer at an approximate time of three hours and costs 15,000 yen per person. These prices are already inclusive of the activities during the tour, transfer expenses, photography costs, and the mermaid costumes!
Participants are allowed to bring with them any of their favorite accessories such as bracelets, necklaces, and hair ornaments to add to their mermaid look. Everyone is assured to go home with a solo photo of themselves although the activity is done in groups where there will be several other participants.
For more details and other tour options, you can check their travel website information here (Japanese only).
These mermaid tours will hopefully double the boom of local tours in popular beaches in the Okinawa area. A great number of mermaid posts are expected from Instagram users as this is most probably going to be one of the trends this 2016 and coming 2017. So don’t get left behind! If you’re in Japan, you can immediately head to Okinawa with your family and friends to find out what it must feel like to be a mermaid and swim with a tail.