Hi, Junko from Japan here! Are you interested in snake tattoos? A snake symbol has various meanings in Japanese culture. In this post, I’ll introduce 7 Japanese traditions and mythologies about snakes.
Snakes had been regarded both as gods and evil spirits in Japanese culture. They do, however, continue to represent strong powers regardless of where they are. I hope the information will help your creative inspiration and ideas!
A Messenger of the Buddhism Goddess
In Japanese Buddhism teaching, white snakes are regarded as messengers from the Buddhism goddess BENZAITEN or an incarnation of BENZAITEN herself. BENZAITEN is known as a goddess who governs music and wealth. She’s often described as a beautiful woman who plays the Biwa (a Japanese lute) and brings white snakes as her attendants.
White snakes would be a great symbol of your creative talent or good money luck.
One of the Japanese Zodiac Animals
In Japan, we have 12 Japanese zodiacs. Your zodiac is decided depending on the birth year. The snake zodiac is for 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, and 2025. If your birth year belongs to the snake zodiac years, snakes would be your guardian animals.
In a Japanese zodiac fortune telling, the snake zodiac symbolizes wisdom. Those who have snake protection are smart and have a strong will to achieve their goals. Based on the Japanese zodiac, a snake design will give you the wisdom to pave your own path.
Symbol of Life
This is an old Kanji symbol that signifies a snake.
It’s said the shape depicts a fetus and symbolizes the power of life. Since snakes repeat shedding, they have signified reincarnation and eternal life. The snake symbol will bring you good health, longevity, and family prosperity.
Japanese Snake God for Good Fortune
In the Japanese Shinto religion, some shrines enshrine a snake god called UGAJIN. UGAJIN has a human head and a coiling-up snake body. The head is sometimes described as the one of an old man, and sometimes as a beautiful woman. UGAJIN is a mysterious god whose origin is unknown but respected as a god who brings good fortune and wealth.
Here’s one of the Ugazin figures that have a female face.
Legendary Snake Monster
YAMATA NO OROCHI is a well-known legendary monster that has eight snake heads.
YAMATA = eight branches
NO = of
OROCHI = serpent, big snake
It appeared in ancient Japanese mythology called KOJIKI. YAMATA NO OROCHI demanded sacrifices of young maidens and suffered the people. The powerful god SUSANOO came there and destroyed YAMAMTA NO OROCHI.
When SUSANOO slashed the tail of the monster, a brilliant sword was found inside it. This sword was named KUSANAGI NO TSURUGI and was presented to AMATERASU, the supreme goddess of Japanese mythology. Surprisingly, this Kusanagi sword has been inherited as one of the three sacred treasures of the imperial family of Japan and is enshrined in the Atsuta Shinto shrine in the Aichi prefecture.
An Evil Wizard in the Edo Period
If you are an anime fan, you must know OROCHIMARU in NARUTO. The legendary three Ninja JIRAIYA, TSUNADE, and OROCHIMARU are all based on an old novel series published in the late Edo period (the 1830s to 1860s). In the novel series, JIRAIYA and TSUNADE fight against the evil wizard OROCHIMARU who controls serpents.
OROCHI means “big snake” in Japanese, and snakes are described as evil monsters summoned by OROCHIMARU’s Ninja techniques.
Symbol of Good Money Luck
Having a dream of snakes is regarded as an omen of getting money. I think it comes from the benefit of BENZAITEN. A golden snake is the best, and a white snake would be great too.