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Famous Japanese Dragons
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Note on identifying Japanese dragons:
Eastern dragons can be rather...elusive. For example, not much is officially known about how Fuku Riu (the Japanese good luck dragon) looks like exactly.
There are certain little things to look out for.
I was discussing this with someone who was researching on Fuku Riu. Personally, I think such a dragon would have a certain "liveliness" as opposed to "fierceness".
The following are reasons why I don't think this white dragon is Fuku Riu. The little that can be gathered from this print is that the dragon is flying across an ocean. It's during the night too. Good luck wouldn't really be associated with the dark or night in Eastern mythology. White is the traditional color of mourning in many Eastern cultures. The dragon is white and also oldish-looking (the white bushy eyebrows, stray hairs on claws). Could it be O Goncho? If it is, then this dragon is signalling famine!
The more cheerful dragons in eastern mythology tend to be either looking upwards or "ascending" (towards the sky, the heavens, success, etc), like the gold dragon below.
Ascending Gold Dragon © SilverDragonGallery.com
The white dragon in the Kunisada print isn't really ascending.
So while the identity of the Kunisada white dragon isn't exactly confirmed (at this point in time), it is likely that it isn't Fuku Riu by process of elimination. All in all, the dragon's doing a good job upkeeping its secrets and mystery.
Famous Japanese dragons:
1.Ryu Jin or Ryo
2. Blue-Green Dragon
3. The main 'dragon kings' recognized
Detail of print by Kunisada, 1860.
- Benten is the Japanese goddess who rides on a nameless dragon. She frequently descends to earth to stop the evil doings of other dragons.
- Fuku Riu is the Japanese Dragon of Good Luck. Likely to be depicted as "ascending" since an ascending dragon is a sign of good luck in Eastern culture.
- Kinryu is a golden dragon.
- Kiyo was originally a beautiful waitress. She becomes a dragon to seek revenge on a priest that lost his passion for her.
- Uwibami is a huge fearsome flying beast that snatches and devours men right off horse's backs.
- Yamata-no-Orochi is an eight-headed dragon.
Susanoo slaying the Yamata-no-Orochi
Its belly is always bloody, its back is covered with moss.
The Orichi is slain by Susanoo, a travelling warrior.
Legend of Susanuo, Copyright 2006 Howard David Johnson
Susanoo asks for Kushinada's hand in marriage, and transforms her into a comb which he places in his hair. The Orichi is tricked into getting drunk on sake. It dips each head into a liquor vat and is intoxicated, allowing Susanoo to slice it to pieces.
- Yofune-nushi was a sea serpent that feasted on young beautiful maidens. A [kick-ass] girl named Tokoyo blinded it with her knife, then killed it when it reared back and exposed its neck.