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Japanese Mythology

The Japanese culture and arts have been strongly influenced by a wide-spread belief in ghosts, demons and supernatural spirits. The roots of Japanese mythology are in the Shinto religion, in Taoism and in Zen Buddhism alike.

Daruma
Daruma is the founder of Zen Buddhism in Japan (552 AD). Originally an Indian priest named Bodhidharma, he crossed all over China to introduce Buddhism in Japan. The legend says that he crossed the sea from China to Japan standing on a bamboo. Daruma is mostly shown in a position of meditation. He is said to have lost the use of his arms and legs by meditating for nine years in a cave. Therefore he is often shown as Daruma doll without legs and arms. The Daruma dolls, or today simply called Daruma, are a symbol of good luck in Japan. Students having their exams or companies starting a new enterprise, buy a Daruma for good luck.

Kintaro - the Tarzan kid
Kintaro, also called the "Golden Boy", was a child of extreme strengths. The son of a princess, he was brought up by Yamauba, an old woman living in the mountains. Kintaro lived in the mountain woods and talked to the animals. He was so strong that he could bend trees like nothing.

In one of the legendary stories, Kintaro one day had a fight with a demon that took the form of a gigantic spider. Kintaro uprooted a tree and smashed the evil spider demon with the tree. On Japanese art objects, Kintaro is usually shown fighting with a wild animal or a demon. Needless to mention that he won all his fights. When he was grown-up (!), Kintaro became a warrior calling himself Sakata Kintoki.

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Karl Zinsmeister

Japanese Mythology

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