Ryūgū-jō

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In Japanese folklore, Ryūgū-jō (竜宮城, 龍宮城, "Dragon palace castle") is the undersea palace of Ryūjin, the dragon kami of the sea.[1] Princess Otohime, her maidens, and Ryūjin's vassals reside in the palace, as well.[2] Jinja hime are yōkai that serve in Ryūgū-jo. During the Edo period, a jinja hime reportedly appeared on a beach proclaiming to be "a messenger from Ryūgū." With a six-meter-long, snake-like body, they resemble giant oarfish, which are called ryūgū no tsukai (lit. "messenger of Ryūgū") in Japanese.[3][4]

Ryūgū-jō is described in Urashima Tarō as located a several-day swim beneath the sea. A marvelous gate appears before it. Different versions describe the palace made of gold, crystal, coral, and pearl with sloping roofs that can be seen over the gate. The large hall within is illuminated by fish scales. A garden surrounds the palace, each of the four sides corresponding to a different season: sakura in bloom to the east (spring), buzzing cicadas to the south (summer), multi-colored maple leaves to the west (autumn), and snow-covered ground to the north (winter).[5][6] One account has three days spent within Ryūgū-jō equal to three hundred years above the surface whereas another version has three Ryūgū-jō years as seven hundred surface years.[7]

Urashima and Otohime in the Autumn side of the undersea palace, watching deer. Japanese watercolor from late 16th or early 17th century
The Winter side of the palace, with a light snow on the garden

Ryūgū Shrine derives its name from Ryūgū-jō. Located on Cape Nagasakibana (also known as Cape Ryūgū)[8][9] in southern Kagoshima, it is said to be where Urashima Tarō traveled to Ryūgū-jō.[10] Locals honor Ryūjin and turtles as protectors.[11][12]

Katase-Enoshima Station in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture is designed to evoke the feeling of Ryūgū-jō.[13][14]

In the Ryukyuan religion, Ryūgū-jō (Okinawan: Ruuguu) is the source of fire for all family and village hearths.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sykes, Egerton (1993). Kendall, Alan (ed.). Who's Who in Non-Classical Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. p. 166.
  2. ^ Davis, F. Hadland (1912). Myths and Legends of Japan (PDF). London: George G. Harrap & Company. p. 325. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  3. ^ Meyer, Matthew. "Jinja hime". Yokai.com. Archived from the original on 1 May 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  4. ^ Yamamoto, Daiki (6 March 2010). "Sea serpents' arrival puzzling, or portentous?". The Japan Times. The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 28 January 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  5. ^ Lang, Andrew, ed. (17 December 2016). "The Pink Fairy Book". Project Gutenberg. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  6. ^ Ozaki, Yei Theodora (1908). "The Story of Urashima Taro, the Fisher Lad". Lit2Go. Florida Center for Instructional Technology, College of Education, University of South Florida. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Urashima Taro: What's the Moral of this Japanese Folk Legend?". Japan Info. Japan Info. 29 January 2016. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Ryugu Shrine". Japan RAIL & TRAVEL. KOTSU SHIMBUNSHA. 24 September 2019. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Ryugu Shrine". KYUSHU x TOKYO. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Palace of the Dragon King Shrine: Ryugu Jinja". IKIDANE NIPPON. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Ryugu Shrine (龍宮神社)". KAGOSHIMA Visitors' GUIDE. Kagoshima Internationalization Council. Archived from the original on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Ryugu Shrine". Japan Travel. NAVITIME JAPAN. 18 December 2017. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  13. ^ "竜宮城の雰囲気を踏襲しながら、ますます便利で快適に片瀬江ノ島駅の改良工事を実施します [Carrying out improvements on Katase-Enoshima Station more conveniently and comfortably while following the feeling of Ryūgū-jō]" (PDF) (Press release) (in Japanese). Odakyu. 12 December 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 December 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  14. ^ "The Legend of Ryūjin". KCP International. KCP International. 23 June 2014. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  15. ^ George H. Kerr, Okinawa: History of an Island People (Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1958), 36.