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Raijū (雷獣,"thunder animal" or "thunder beast") is a legendary creature from Japanese mythology. Its body is composed of lightning and may be in the shape of a cat, fox, weasel, or wolf. The form of a white and blue wolf (or even a wolf wrapped in lightning) is also common. It may also fly about as a ball of lightning (in fact, the creature may be an attempt to explain the phenomenon of lightning). Its cry sounds like thunder.
Raiju is the companion of Raijin, the Shinto god of lightning. While the beast is generally calm and harmless, during thunderstorms, it becomes agitated and leaps about in trees, fields, and even buildings (trees that have been struck by lightning are said to have been scratched by Raiju's claws).
Another of Raiju's peculiar behaviors is sleeping in human navels. This prompts Raiden to shoot lightning arrows at Raiju to wake the creature up, and thus harms the person in whose belly the demon is resting. Superstitious people therefore often sleep on their stomachs during bad weather, but other legends say that Raiju will only hide in the navels of people who sleep outdoors.
In popular culture
- In Captain Tsubasa, Hyuga Kojiro's third special shot was named "Raiju Shot" because of its sharp, uppercutting effect.
- The Thunder card in Card Captor Sakura takes the form of a Raijū.
- In xxxHolic, a Raijū appears in an electronics shop.
- In the role-playing video game series Shin Megami Tensei the Raijū is one of the summonable demons.
- In the anime, video game, and card game Pokémon, there is a Pokémon named "Raichu" modeled after this legend. Also, "Raikou" is based upon this legend. Electrike and Manectric are believed to be based on this legend.
- In the anime and manga Inuyasha the Raijuu brothers Hiten and Manten were infamous lightning demons.
- In the manga Rosario + Vampire Raika the "Fairy tale" leader of the 5th subdivision real form appears to be Raijū.
- The 2010 novel, Raiju: A Kaiju Hunter Novel, presents Raiju as a giant monster, as well as a Kami. She was sealed away in hell during a human rebellion against the Kami. She is awoken in present-day New York to battle Qilin, a corrupted Kami, by her Keeper, Kevin Takahashi, a teen with the power to summon her. She is depicted as lion with dragon-like properties and power over flame. She also manifests in Kevin's dreams as a beautiful red-haired woman in a kimono.
- The Digimon Raidramon is based on a Raijū.
- In the manga Naruto, the character Kakashi Hatake has a technique which creates a wolf made of lightning.
- The Nintendo DS video game Megaman ZX has the boss Hurricaune the Wolveroid, which is similar to the Raiju and the Kamaitachi or Sickle weasel.
- Pacific Rim features a Kaiju named "Raiju", whom was one of the 3 Kaijus who rose to defend the breach from the Jaegers. And this creature contained a bio-luminescent head that is covered by a tripartite jaw for protection.
- The game series Monster Hunter features a monster known as the Zinogre, which resembles a dragon-wolf, which also has to ability to manipulate lightning