Kai Riu O The Dragon King Of The World Under The Sea
: Japanese Fairy World
Soon after her arrival at home, the empress Jingu gave birth to a son,
whom she named Ojin. He was one of the fairest children ever born of an
imperial mother, and was very wise and wonderful even when an infant. He
was a great favorite of Takenouchi, the prime minister of the empress. As
he grew up, he was full of the Yamato Damashii, or the spirit of
This Takenouchi was a very vener
ble old man, who was said to be three
hundred and sixty years old. He had been the counsellor of five mikados.
He was very tall, and as straight as an arrow, when other old men were
bent like a bow. He served as a general in war and a civil officer in
peace. For this reason he always kept on a suit of armor under his long
satin and damask court robes. He wore the bear-skin shoes and the
tiger-skin scabbard which were the general's badge of rank, and also the
high cap and long fringed strap hanging from the belt, which marked the
court noble. He had moustaches, and a long beard fell over his breast
like a foaming waterfall, as white as the snows on the branches of the
pine trees of Ibuki mountain.
Now the empress, as well as Takenouchi, wished the imperial infant Ojin
to live long, be wise and powerful, become a mighty warrior, be
invulnerable in battle, and to have control over the tides and the ocean
as his mother once had. To do this it was necessary to get back the Tide
So Takenouchi took the infant Ojin on his shoulders, mounted the imperial
war-barge, whose sails were of gold-embroidered silk, and bade his rowers
put out to sea. Then standing upright on the deck, he called on Kai Riu O
to come up out of the deep and give back the Tide Jewels to Ojin.
At first there was no sign on the waves that Kai Riu O heard. The green
sea lay glassy in the sunlight, and the waves laughed and curled above
the sides of the boat. Still Takenouchi listened intently and waited
reverently. He was not long in suspense. Looking down far under the
sparkling waves, he saw the head and fiery eyes of a dragon mounting
upward. Instinctively he clutched his robe with his right hand, and held
Ojin tightly on his shoulder, for this time not Isora, but the terrible
Kai Riu O himself was coming.
What a great honor! The sea-king's servant, Isora, had appeared to a
woman, the empress Jingu, but to her son, the Dragon King of the World
Under the Sea deigned to come in person.
The waters opened; the waves rolled up, curled, rolled into wreaths and
hooks and drops of foam, which flecked the dark green curves with silvery
bells. First appeared a living dragon with fire-darting eyes, long
flickering moustaches, glittering scales of green all ruffled, with
terrible spines erect, and the joints of the fore-paws curling out jets
of red fire. This living creature was the helmet of the Sea King. Next
appeared the face of awful majesty and stern mien, as if with reluctant
condescension, and then the jewel robes of the monarch. Next rose into
view a huge haliotis shell, in which, on a bed of rare gems from the deep
sea floor, glistened, blazed and flashed the two Jewels of the Tides.
Then the Dragon-King spoke, saying:
"Quick, take this casket, I deign not to remain long in this upper world
of mortals. With these I endow the imperial prince of the Heavenly line
of the mikados of the Divine country. He shall be invulnerable in battle.
He shall have long life. To him I give power over sea and land. Of this,
let these Tide-Jewels be the token."
Hardly were these words uttered when the Dragon-King disappeared with a
tremendous splash. Takenouchi standing erect but breathless amid the
crowd of rowers who, crouching at the boat's bottom had not dared so much
as to lift up their noses, waited a moment, and then gave the command to
turn the prow to the shore.
Ojin grew up and became a great warrior, invincible in battle and
powerful in peace. He lived to be one hundred and eleven years old, and
was next to the last of the long lived mikados of Everlasting Great
* * * * *
To this day Japanese soldiers honor him as the patron of war, and pray to
him as the ruler of battle.
When the Buddhist priests came to Japan they changed his name to Hachiman
Dai Bosatsu, or the "Great Buddha of the Eight Banners." On many a hill
and in many a village of Japan may still be seen a shrine to his honor.
Often when a soldier comes back from war, he will hang up a tablet or
picture-frame, on which is carved a painting or picture of the two-edged
short sword like that which Ojin carried. Many of the old soldiers who
fought in armor wore a little silver sword of Ojin set as a frontlet to
their helmets, for a crest of honor. On gilded or lacquered Japanese
cabinets and shrines, and printed on their curious old, and new greenback
paper money, are seen the blazing Jewels of the Tides. On their gold and
silver coins the coiled dragon clutches in his claws the Jewels of the
Ebbing and the Flowing Tide. One of the iron-clad war ships of the
imperial Japanese navy, on which floats proudly the red sun-banner of the
Empire of the Rising Sun, is named K[=o]g[=o] (Empress) after the Amazon
empress who in the third century carried the arms of the Island Empire
into the main land of Asia, and won victory by her mastery over the
ebbing and the flowing tides.