Eight dragon kings. Originally the naga or snake spirits of Indian belief, these became the dragon kings in China, from whence they arrived in Japan. The eight dragon kings rule dragon- and snake-kind, and are personified in the form of RyΔjin, the dragon kami. They reside under the ocean or in large lakes, and their abode is a magical palace surrounded by gardens. The dragon kings are not all-powerful. Their magic resides in a ball, or pearl, whose virtue is that it controls desires. They are also vulnerable to other powerful entities, as the story of Tawara Toda indicates. Generally benevolent, one or another of these dragon kings (they are undifferentiated) play a part in many Japanese myths. Urashimatarπ stayed with the dragon king, as did some of the culture heroes, notably Tawara Toda, who saved the dragon king’s kingdom.
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- Ouwehand, Cornelius. 1964. Namazu-e and Their Themes: An Interpretative Approach to Some Aspects of Japanese Religion. Leiden, the Netherlands: E. J. Brill.
- Visser, Marinus Willem de. 1913. The Dragon in China and Japan. Amsterdam: J. Müller; Wiesbaden: M. Sändig, 1969.
Handbook of Japanese Mythology written by Michael Ashkenazi – Copyright © 2003 by Michael Ashkenazi