Kuzuryu

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Kuzuryū (九頭龍), or Kuzuryūshin (九頭龍神) is a dragon in the folklore of Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Origin

Kuzuryu is said to have appeared in response to the echoing sound when the door to the rock of cave was torn off and flung down to earth. The door became Mount Togakushi, and Kuzuryu became a nearby mountain of the same name. The Kuzuryu is originally Vasuki in the Buddhism. Vasuki is identified to Shesha. Shesha is Nagaraja that appears in an Indian myth, and it is 1 of 1000 that arose between Kashyapa and Kadru Naga.


Story

In days of yore when Priest Mangan-Shonin was the chief of the Shrine, there lived, according to legend, a poisonous and fierce dragon in the lake and he often afflicted people living near the lake. They had to offer human sacrifice, mostly young girls, to the dragon every year to appease his revengeful spirit. Hearing the story, the Priest made a stone stairs leading into the lake and exorcised the evil spirit of the dragon with his magical power. The dragon finally gave in and has never since afflicted the people. He is believed to have changed to Kuzuryu-myojin {koo-zoo-r'you} , literally a nine-headed dragon, and began to live in the lake as the guardian spirit.


Religion/Beliefs

During the 13th of July women from all over Japan would come to the town of Moto-hakone along Lake Ashi to take a boat trip to this shrine to be blessed so that they can find their love The festival takes place on the evening of July 31 every year near the Torii gate of the Shrine. The chief priest get on a boat alone and dedicate festive red rice cooked by the Shrine's priests in holy manner to the dragon's spirit. The cooked red rice has to be exactly three-to (to is a volume unit and 1-to is roughly 18 liter), three-sho (1 sho is 1.8 liter) and three-go (1 go is 0.18 liter) to serve the nine heads. To honor the legend and dedicate to the nine-headed dragon, the Shrine constructed a sub-shrine called Kuzuryu Jinja near the main hall in 1988, the year of dragon. Together with Soga sub-shrine, the structure is covered with vermillion color and is beautifully maintained.