Posts Tagged ‘ Year of the Dragon ’

2012: Happy Year of the Dragon

“Happy New Year” .  .  .

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!  ・ 明けましておめでとうございます  —  in Japanese.

Shin Nian Kuai Le!新年快乐  —  in Chinese.

The Cloud Dragon. Ceiling of Tenryuji Temple (Kyoto) Teaching Hall.


I stayed a couple nights in Kyoto’s Tenryuji Temple in the Spring of ’91.  A group of fellows from my small, Hyogo Prefecture town, and the local Renzai Sect priest, invited me to travel with them for a weekend at the temple, about two and a half hours away by train.  These were the same guys with whom I’d experienced a Sunrise Meditation several months before, on a chilly December morning.   This weekend in Kyoto, though, turned out to be something different.  No meditation, just an enjoyable Weekend with the Guys in the Big City.  That’s another story, though.

Another Kyoto “Dragon Temple” I’ve visited — this one many times over — is Ryoanji, not too far from Tenryuji, the “Dragon at Peace” Temple.

Lantern Detail. Ryoanji Temple. Kyoto. May 2010.

So long 2011

There’s an expression, a kotowaza, in Japan:  “Time (flies) like an arrow,” or 光陰矢のごとしKouin ya no gotoshi.  So it is.  So it is.  I’ve been a little sad to see 2011, the Year of the Rabbit, pass by.  But such is the way of things です、ね.


2012 is the Year of the Dragon.  For more on the East Asian / Chinese Calendar, click here.  Dragons are a big deal in Asia.  All over the world, actually.  St. George, and all that.  And there’s Tolkien’s Smaug, of course.  We can’t forget one of the West’s most famous dragons… Puff.  And there’s Albi, from New Zealand.  But in Asia dragons are mostly, mostly, considered lucky and venerable, though wild and unpredictable, creatures.

A client in Japan sent me an New Year’s E-Card a couple of days ago.  It was littered with pictures of seahorses.  In Japan seahorses aren’t seen as seahorses, but, rather, as little baby dragons, or (竜の落し子) tatsuno-otoshigo.  The card read in part:

In Japan dragon has been worshiped as water god that controls

clouds and rain for good harvest.

According to the ancients, those born in a Year of the Dragon (…1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012) tend to .  .  .

. . . live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. They’re passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion. Unfortunately, this passion and enthusiasm can leave Dragons feeling exhausted and interestingly, unfulfilled.

While Dragons frequently help others, rarely will they ask for help. Others are attracted to Dragons, especially their colorful personalities, but deep down, Dragons prefer to be alone. Perhaps that is because they’re most successful when working alone. Their preference to be alone can come across as arrogance or conceitedness, but these qualities aren’t applicable. Dragons have tempers that can flare fast!

The Dragon Year will not only be celebrated in China and paid homage to in Japan (and Korea), but all over the world, people will be marking and celebrating the Year of the Dragon.  Here’s what’s going on in Los Angeles, for example:

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Year of the Dragon is a significant year in Asian tradition:  the dragon is sacred and symbolizes strength, luck and new beginnings. Throughout Asia and also in the U.S., cities are preparing for this important time of year with much fanfare and celebration—this is especially true in Los Angeles’ most unique historic district, LA Chinatown. LA Chinatown hosts one of the largest New Year celebrations in the country with more than 125,000 attendees convening in the district for the weekend-long celebration.


And in Washington, D.C.  .  .  . in Sydney .  .  . in London .  .  .  and Birmingham, Alabama.

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Please come back for updates. . .



(Last Hurrah for) Rabbits.

I’m re-posting this, putting it back atop the Front Page, with just a little more than two weeks left to go in 2011, the Year of the Rabbit.  In a couple of weeks I’ll be posting a new “Year of the…” piece for 2012.  That would be an homage to the Dragon.  But here’s one last tip of the hat to the Rabbit.  My year, in fact.  It’ll roll back round in a dozen years, in 2023.

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In East Asia 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit (“Rabbit” is usagi ・兎 in Japanese).  I posted a pretty fulsome piece, here, on this back in January.  Rabbits are everywhere in Japan these days, as the following several photos, taken last week and the week before, show:

Okazaki Shrine... The Rabbit Shrine. Kyoto. August 13.


Sale. Along Kawaramachi Street. Kyoto. August 14.


At "Chibitto." Small bar just off Marutamachi. Kyoto. August 9.


More bunnies at Okazaki Shrine. Kyoto. August 13.


3-panel noren (curtain). Pontocho restaurant. Kyoto. August 11.


"Manjuwari." Sweet shop window display. Kurama. August 13.


In Kurama Onsen's (hot springs) vestibule. Kurama. August 13.


Ema (絵馬) wish/prayer plaque, Okazaki Shrine. Kyoto. August 13.


Reads: "This year's my year, y'know." Book fair. Kyoto. August 14.

And let’s not forget the Rabbit in the Moon.

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The history of Okazaki Jinja・Shrine 岡崎神社 (click on photo to make larger):

Placard at the entrance of Okazaki Jinja. Kyoto. August 13.


Detail of explainer placard above. Okazaki Shrine entrance.


"Honden," Main Worship Hall. Okazaki Shrine. August 13.


Maneki Usagi (招き兎) in front of Okazaki Jinja Honden. August 13.

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Parting shots . . .

This really is great salad dressing.  I brought several bottles back with me.


“Luna Luna” (“Moon Moon” — Rabbit in the Moon, get it?).