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Chinese vs Japanese dragons

George L.

9 Jan 2004
I once heard that Chinese dragons and Japanese dragons have a different amount of toes...something like Chinese dragons only have 3 toes whereas Japanese dragons have 4...does anyone know the validity of this? And if so, why? What is the reasoning, if there is any, behind this? It might be nothing, but I thought I would ask anyway.

Chinese Dragons have five toes on each foot; Korean or Indonesian dragons have four and Japanese dragons have three. To explain this phenomenon, a Chinese legend states that although dragons originated in China, the further away from China a dragon went the fewer toes it had, and dragons only exist in China, Korea, Indonesia,and Japan because if they travelled further they would have no toes to continue. Japanese legend has an opposing story, namely that dragons originated in Japan, and the further they travelled the more toes they got and as a result, if they went too far they would have too many toes to continue to walk properly. In Korea and Indonesia, depending upon which direction the dragon travels it will either gain or lose toes and the principles of the previous two myths both apply here.

Another interpretation: according to several sources, Chinese dragons had four toes--but the Imperial Dragon had five. It was a capital offence for anyone other than the emperor to use the five-clawed dragon motif.

Excellent! Thank you so much! I was worried that it was just a stupid question w/ no founding. hehe

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