dragons

The Japanese Dragon

Tatsu

Japanese dragons are known collectively as "Tatsus". They are referred to in the Shinto religion which tells of the Dragon King Ryu-Wo. Ryu-Wo was a guardian of the Shinto faith who lived in a palace under the sea.

Japanese dragons are similar to Chinese ones to which are said to be related. Both are serpentine and usually wingless. Whereas Chinese dragons have five toes, Japanese ones have three. The dragon of Japan also has spines along its back. Like Chinese dragons, those of Japanese tradition are usually wise and beautiful. However there do seem to be more that are indifferent or actually inimical to the affairs of humankind.



Many Japanese dragons, according to legend, have the ability to change size and shape, even becoming invisible at times. This shape-shifting is a common feature of Japanese dragon lore with stories of humans turning into dragons and vice versa.

The Japanese dragon is said to be constantly in conflict with the tiger, their arguments causing storms and quakes.

Some famous dragons from Japan include:

  • The Blue Dragon
    Protector of the Zodiac

  • O Goncho
    A white dragon that once every fifty years transforms into a golden bird. Its cry brings famine.

  • Uwibami
    More akin to the stereotypical evil Western dragon, Uwibami was a great beast that would snatch men from their horses and eat them.

  • Yofune-Nushi
    Another less than pleasant dragon who craved female human flesh and demanded a maiden sacrifice once a year.