2024 Year of the dragon

Dragons are revered as water gods across Japan, and traditional festivals in farming communities have called on them as rainmakers in dry weather, while fishing communities pray to them for bumper catches.

They often appear with water flowing from their mouths at temizuya (or chōzuya), where visitors to Shintō shrines purify themselves by washing their hands.

One of Japan’s favorite historical figures, the samurai Sakamoto Ryōma (坂本龍馬) includes a dragon in his name.  Ryōma himself always wrote it 龍馬