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Tamatori-hime, or Princess Jewel Taker, is one of the most famous folk stories involving the sea dragon, Ryujin.


Long ago in Japan, there was a powerful family known as the Fujiwara Clan. Their leader was Kamatari Fujiwara, and under his guidance the clan became so influential that one of his daughters was even a concubine to the Emperor of China. When Kamatari died, as all men must, the Emperor showed his affection for his concubine by sending a ship with three rich gifts to the funeral.

One of these gifts was a wondrous pearl. When Ryujin heard about it, he thought that no mere mortal deserved to have such a prize. He created a terrible storm, and in the confusion, he stole the pearl! When Kamatari’s son, Fuhito, heard about the loss, he was horrified. Even a powerful clan like the Fujiwaras couldn’t be so careless as to lose a gift from the Emperor of China. It was a terrible disgrace.

Fuhito set off to search in the area where the pearl was last known to be safe on board the ship. The storm had come up along a remote stretch of coast where only a few villagers lived. There Fuhito met a pearl diver named Ama. Although she didn’t know about any lost pearls, Fuhito thought she was the most rare pearl of all. They were married and she bore him a son.

However, Ama was determined to find the Fujiwara Pearl and restore honor to her husband’s and son’s family. She dove and dove again, searching the deepest crevices of the rocks and reefs. Soon she discovered Ryujin’s palace and all the fearsome sea creatures guarding it. By plucking a stringed instrument, Ama was able to lull the guards to sleep. She dove down deeper than ever and fetched the pearl out of Ryujin’s palace.

Alas, once the music stopped, the guards woke up. Brave Ama swam as fast as she could, but it was clear they swam faster than any human ever would. She made a desperate decision. With her diving knife, she cut her own chest open and hid the pearl inside. Blood gushed out, clouding the water. Ama was able to escape!

Although she did reach the shore, the injury claimed her life soon after.  Ama was buried with great honor because of what she had sacrificed to restore her son’s future. Ever since that day she has been remembered as Tamatori-Hime, or Princess Jewel Taker.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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After all these military-grade Sea Dragons, I’m longing for a truly mythic sea dragon, aren’t you? Well, here you go.

Ryujin was the dragon god who ruled the seas in Japanese folklore. Also known as Ryu-O or Watatsumi, he was a major deity in Japan’s traditional faith, Shinto. Considering that Japan is a group of islands surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, this isn’t surprising. The sea could be bountiful or turn destructive at a moment’s notice, so everyone wanted to get in good with the sea god.

In addition to being the god of the sea, Ryujin was believed to control fresh water springs and the coming of the rain. He could walk in people’s dreams. As a healer, his skill was supreme.

According to the tales, Ryujin lived in a beautiful palace of red and white coral, far beneath the sea. Using a set of magical gems, he was able to control the tides. Other tales say that he had an underground passage to Lake Biwa, on the island of Honshu, and his palace was actually under Lake Biwa. His court was made up of fish, turtles, jellyfish, and similar sea creatures. When he wanted to operate on land, snakes would serve as his messengers.

Like many of the Asian dragons, Ryujin was able to take human form at will. There are various tales of his adventures, although he seems a bit of a homebody. Most humans encounter him by wandering into his domain rather than him being out and about. Like the sea, Ryujin could be fickle. He might be kind and helpful, or dangerous and sinister. Several of the tales show him stealing things from mortals or other deities, so there’s an element of the trickster-god, as well.

Check back on Saturday for one of Ryujin’s legends.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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