The Dragon King of Lake Biwa

Hear about the Dragon King on Episode 6 of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

The Dragon King

The Dragon King also called the Dragon King of the Lake is a Dragon known from the tale My Lord Bag of Rice living in a Palace at the bottom of Lake Biwa, described as having red hair, a crown in the shape of a dragon’s head and a sea-green dress patterned with shells.

My Lord Bag of Rice

In the tale, he sleeps in his Dragon form across Seta-no-Karashi Bridge on his lake awaiting a brave warrior. Fujiwara Hidesato is brave enough to walk over the Dragon’s body and so turning back into his human form asks Fujiwara for help.

He beseeches Fujiwara for his help against Seta, a Giant Centipede, as the creature comes every night and takes some of his family.

Fujiwara agrees to kill the Centipede for the Dragon King. When the Centipede appears the king hides, coming out after it has been slain.

He throws a feast afterwards for Fujiwara asking him to stay, but he declines and so gifts him with.

  • A large bronze bell.
  • A bag of rice.
  • A roll of silk.
  • A cooking pot.
  • A bell.

The two then part ways after the King escorts Fujiwara back to Seta-no-Karashi Bridge.1

The Gratitude of the Samebito

In another tale known as The Gratitude of the Samebito, we see mention of this Dragon King and others from the creature known as the Samebito who after a minor fault has been exiled from the side of the Dragon King.2

Footnotes

1. Ozaki, Y.T. (1903) “The Japanese Fairy Book”. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd.
2. Davis, F. H. (1992) “Myths and Legends of Japan.” New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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The Dragon King