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Japanese dragons

My trip to Japan was an incredible journey, and there were many aspects of the country and its culture that fascinated me. One of the most intriguing are the myths about Japanese dragons.

I have a deep affection for dragons; they symbolize an incredible intensity of magical energy. Japanese dragons hold a special place of reverence. Typically, they are depicted with three toes on each foot—an important detail, as it is believed that all other dragons in the world are descendants of Japanese dragons who ventured far from Japan and developed additional toes during their travels. Additionally, Japanese dragons often have many heads, ranging from five to eight. These dragons are associated with water, known for their ability to create rain and even typhoons. Some Japanese dragons are known for their wisdom and generosity, bestowing miraculous gifts upon those who see and respect them. In fact, one of the dragons is even considered the grandmother of the Japanese emperor. Conversely, there are malevolent dragons in Japanese lore, much like their European counterparts. They share the unfortunate habit of stealing and consuming beautiful women. Similarly to European knights, many Japanese samurais embarked on quests to save these kidnapped princesses from the clutches of dragons. One legend that particularly resonated with me involved a young girl who fought a dragon to save a samurai. In this tale, a young woman named Tokoyo embarked on a journey to search for her samurai father, who had been exiled to a remote island for his rebellious spirit. Upon her arrival on the island, she did not find her father, but she did encounter a priest leading a young girl to a cliff overlooking the ocean. The priest was deep in prayer, while the girl sobbed uncontrollably. Tokoyo was moved to protect the girl, and the priest explained the dire situation. A menacing dragon named Yofune-Nushi terrorized the small fishing village on the island. Every year, the dragon demanded that the villagers sacrifice a virgin to him, threatening to conjure a devastating storm to destroy their fishing fleet if they refused. Brave Tokoyo volunteered to be the sacrifice in place of the young girl. She courageously leaped into the sea, where she confronted the dragon and ultimately killed it, striking it in the eye with her dagger. When she brought the dragon's lifeless body to shore, she was celebrated as a hero, and the ruler of the province pardoned her father's exile as a token of gratitude. The legend of Tokoyo's bravery serves as a testament to the courage and resilience found in Japanese folklore, where individuals are willing to confront fearsome dragons to protect the innocent and bring about justice.

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