Within Japanese mythology, thousands of dragons exist. All of them have three common characteristics: three claws on each leg, a mustache and a sacred pearl that is called the "dragon pearl". It is from this jewel that the magic of these creatures comes. The most popular of these dragons is Ryujin, the God of the Seas. Ryujin is also considered a demon or Yokai.
First, we will look at the palace where Ryujin resides. You will see that the latter houses many secrets. Then, we will see what this great god has the power to achieve with his magic. Then we will prove the extent of his legend by explaining why thousands of Shintoists worship him. We will finish by telling you three thrilling legends including this deity.
It is important to know that this is not the only important deity that manifests itself as a dragon. For example, the eight-headed monster Yamata No Orochi is also considered as a demon in Japanese myth and god...
We wish you a pleasant reading.
Ryūgū-jō, the Imperial Palace of the Sea Dragon King
Ryujin lives in a luxurious palace submerged under the sea that calls itself "Ryūgū-jō." This is made up of red and white coral as well as precious stone. This large mansion has a very special power: it changes the perception of time. Indeed, a century in the earthly world is only equivalent to a single day in the Dragon King's Kingdom. The palace has 4 ends. Each of them symbolizes one of the 4 seasons.
In Fujisawa, thea station in Katase-Enoshima is a reference to this famous palace. The latter faithfully represents the architecture that the legend dictates.
Expand your knowledge about this mythical palace with this blog post.
Ryujin's magical powers
The magic pearl that Ryujin holds gives him certain powers. Like all dragons, he is able to breathe fire. But his abilities don't stop there. He is also able to metamorphose into any shape he wants. He can therefore perfectly adopt a human form. He also has total control over the ocean. He can unleash dangerous tsunamis or terrible storms.
He also possesses an immense influence power. All marine species are under his control. Sea turtles deliver his messages, fish and jellyfish show up as faithful servants. Fishermen regularly try to obtain his sympathy through offerings in order to hope a calm sea.
The faith of the dragon god: a Shinto belief
Within Shintoism, there is a doctrine that is called Ryūjin shinkō. These believers worship dragons. They name these divine creatures "water kami." They pray to this god to implore agricultural success as well as success for fishermen. It is not by chance that the Japanese pay special attention to Ryujin. It is because the sea is very important for the Japanese people of the Middle Ages and of the antiquity. For the simple reason that they live on an island surrounded by the sea. The inhabitants feed themselves mainly by fishing. Considering this, it becomes logical that the great king of the seas is the most important deity.
Many Shinto shrines are dedicated specifically to the god of the sea. The most famous is in Osaka and is called the Daikai Jinja.
The empress Jinga and the jewels of Ryujin
Ryujin's sacred mission is to protect Japan. He don't hesitate to use his powers to help the Japanese imperial family. In the context of a great war, Japanese empress had to fight a fierce Korean fleet. The sea dragon then offers her majesty all his magic.
As soon as the battle begins, she makes the water disappear. Leaving the boats of her attackers to run aground in the sea. They make the decision to get out of their ships to launch the infantry. But at that moment, she has the strategic genius to make reappear the water. An ingenious idea that caused the death of all of her enemies thanks to the Japanese imperial treasures...
The Japanese legend of Ryujin and the jellyfish
One day, Ryujin's wife needed to be cured of a serious illness. The only cure was a monkey liver. So the sea dragon sent a jellyfish to bring a monkey to the divine realm (in those distant days, jellyfish still had feet, a tail, as well as bones).
The messenger quickly accomplished her mission by convincing one of her creatures. But it is only on the way that the jellyfish explains to its companion the reason why it needs him. It is necessary to admit that he did not see with a good eye the idea to sacrifice his liver. It is thus at this moment that he tried to find a way out.
In total improvisation, he worked out a funny story. He tells the jellyfish that his liver is far too heavy to carry. He is then forced to store it in a tree during the day. So he took the jellyfish to the tree, but nothing was inside. When the jellyfish intends to ask the monkey about it, it finds that the monkey has disappeared. Defeated, she returns to Ryūgū-jō to announce her dismal failure to the great dragon.
With the god's wrath more powerful than ever, he struck the jellyfish until she finally shrank to the state we know her to be.
Urashima Tarō and the Magic Pearl of Immortality
A fisherman named Urashima Tarō witnesses a sad sight. Some children are torturing a helpless fish. He decided to come to its aid by separating it from its attackers and releasing it into the ocean. He continued to live his life quietly until a huge turtle asked him to get on its back. This strange mount took the fisherman to the great kingdom of the sea dragon. The god intends to reward his good deed.
The being he had saved was not just a common fish. It was Ryujin's daughter who had adopted another form. For seven days, Urashima Tarō was welcome in the prestigious palace.
When the time came for him to leave, the girl he had rescued gave him a gift that was not lacking in generosity. She gives him a small box containing a pearl of immortality. It can also allow him to fulfill all his wishes. For this artifact to work, it is imperative that the box never be opened.
7 days in Ryujin's world is worth 700 years on earth. When Urashima Tarō returned to earth, 700 years had then passed. The news did not shock him more than that and he took advantage of the jewel to live in luxury. He did not let his new power corrupt his altruistic nature. As soon as he arrived, he offered his wealth to all the villagers.
Unable to settle for what Urashima Tarō offers, the people forced their way through his door in order to get their hands on the magic box. Once that was done, they rushed to open it. That's when all its power permanently escapes. Leaving its owner to age and succumb. To punish this heinous act, Ryujin deprived the villagers of water. It was through this punishment that the entire village perished.
If you are interested in Japanese fire creatures, we let you look into our article dedicated to the different kind of Japanese gods dragons.