Happy New Year! あけましておめでとうございます！
Wishing all the readers of Haikugirl’s Japan a very Happy New Year! 2012 is the year of the dragon. According to Amy Chavez, “Japanese dragons are said to be benevolent but don’t be fooled. They can still be very wrathful.” But Amy also goes on to say that dragons are the “guardians of Buddhism“, and it is true that dragons can be found at temples all over Japan (and shrines - dragons feature in Shinto as well as Buddhism).
Japanese dragons are often thought of as water deities, which is why you sometimes find them by hand washing fountains (chozuya or temizuya) at shrines and temples. Interestingly, I have seen a couple of mentions of 2012 being the year of the seahorse instead of the dragon – I wonder if that has anything to do with the dragon as a water deity? (More on that here.)
In Amy’s article she says, “the good news for 2012 is that the dragon, full of myth and magic, should bring us wealth and fortune in the New Year, which is optimistic news in these tough economic times.” If nothing else, perhaps it will be a good year for the Chunichi Dragons in Nagoya!
I hope 2012 proves to be a fortunate you for all of you reading this, and for everyone in Japan! (*^_^)v