The year of the Dragon is the fifth of the Chinese zodiac signs. Each zodiac sign is repeated in a cycle of 12 years. The year of the Dragoincludeil 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012 and 2024.
Rakusai Generation is a culmination of 1000 years of Shigaraki pottery. The family is one of the old potter families in Shiga and has been making ceramics for five generations. They built two kilns behind their house, making very traditional style vessels. On the left image is Rakusai III died on January 17 1976 (on Sunset). Takahashi Rakusai IV, his eldest son he's a Traditional Craftsman Born in 1925, he succeeded to the family mantle in 1976. He was recognized as a "Traditional Craftsman" by Japanese Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry . Now his son Rakusai V has taken charge of the entire business. Shiga is a Prefecture in Japan. Shigaraki, Bizen, are very popular as WABI-SABI pottery. All Rakusai works presents a lovely sense of view, touch and hold in the hands. The entire family are potters who has got very high evaluation & their name has been inherited from generation to generation, & skill are well maintained today with respect. The Six Ancient kilns of Japan is a general name given to the six major sites of ceramic production since the Kamakura era(1185-1333). Shiga's Kiln is one of the six ancient kiln sites, has been produced for over 1000 years. Many potting centers have lost the dynamism that reached a peak in the Momoyama era(1568-1615), yet Shigaraki is still a thriving ceramic center very famous, and Rakusai is a must for fans. You will find Rakusai Incised into clay as ら (ra)
Dragons are very popular symbols in Japanese culture. With mythical animals and boundless strength and wisdom, dragons are divided into two main categories, those of the sky and those of the sea. Yes, because in Japan these creatures also live in the abysses of the oceans, another very strong symbol for the culture of the Rising Sun.
Ryu and Tatsu
The words that the Japanese use to define these beautiful mythological animals are two: ryu (yes, like the famous character of Street Fighter) and tatsu, which instead refers to a language more dating back in time.
Yin and Yang
The dragons are the personification of the yin and the yang, the symbol of good and evil that cross each other and that, although separated, can not live without mixing as much as necessary.
9 animals for a dragon
In Japanese culture these creatures resemble a little, at least in structure, to manticore, chimeras and hydra, mythological animals closer to our culture, which are composed of pieces of other animals. In the case of Ryu we have as many as 9 animals to compose his body:
the deer by the horns, the camel by the head, the rabbit for the eyes, the snake for the body, a shell for the chest, the carp for the scales, the eagle for the claws, the tiger for the legs and the ram for the ears.
They represent strength, courage and magic in Japanese culture. Unlike ours, they do not have wings, but they manage to fly anyway, thanks to a particular organ that resides in the head and that guarantees it to fly magically in flight.
Types of dragon
Also called Watatsumi, this dragon is the god of the sea according to the most ancient Japanese culture. Symbolizes the strength of the sea.
benten-tattoThe goddess of the sea rode a dragon. After marrying him to end the terror he sowed among the people, he became the goddess of love.
Today Benten is also considered a protector of artists and musicians.
3. The blue dragon
He is the guard and protector of the zodiac. Symbolizes leadership, command and ability to lead an army of powerful.
Kiyo was once human. She was a girl who, married to a monk, was abandoned shortly thereafter. After being abandoned she studied the magic to become a dragon, and after having succeeded she killed the monk who had abandoned her. It symbolizes revenge and the consequences of surrendering to desire.
5. Or Goncho
It is a white dragon that appears every 50 years, under the disguise of a golden bird. With a lamentation can create famines. It symbolizes lack and distress.
Are they good or bad?
Contrary to what you think, Japanese dragons are not always benevolent. There are many bad guys, which symbolize the dark side of Japanese mythology. The most famous are:
1. Yofune-nahsi: it symbolizes the hidden truths and the freedom that is acquired thanks to the truth
2. Yamata-no-orochi: symbolizes the danger that hides in an enterprise before it has been completely completed.
3. Uwibami: symbolizes prudence, controlling all the roads before embarking on a journey.
The difference with Chinese dragons
The Japanese dragons resemble, and a lot, the Chinese ones. The bulk of the difference, in two traditions that are very close, is mainly in the number of fingers: three for the jap, five for Japan.