Many western cultures have popular stories about the dragonfly, telling that it has connections with… the devil. Well, I always liked the dragonflies, when I was a kid I used to admire and even catch them.
But in Japan the dragonflies are symbols of happiness, courage and strength. There are about 200 species of dragonflies in Japan and almost all of them have traditional names. Actually, even an old name of Japan is related to dragonflies: Akitsushima 「秋津島」, “The Island of Dragonflies".
Also, there is a Japanese story about one of the Three Great Spears of Japan, which belonged to Honda Tadakatsu, a general of Tokugawa Ieyasu. That spear was called Tonbogiri and in Japanese tonbo means “dragonfly” and giri means “cutting". According to the story, a dragonfly once landed on the cutting edge and it was instantaneously cut in two…
Here’s a dragonfly who landed on a safe place… on a shimenawa from a shrine in Saitama. Since shimenawa are placed to act as a ward against evil spirits, I guess the western stories with the devil are wrong…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: Hundreds of Jizo