“Fūjin and Raijin and Pokémon”
Raijin and Fūjin
Raijin and Fūjin are Japanese legendary deities associated with Thunderstorms and Tornadoes. Raijin is the god of thunder and storms. According to Japanese mythology, he is usually depicted as beating on a drum to create thunder. It is said that he “will descend from the clouds and take children away”. In Shinto legend, the tornado god Fūjin “was present at the birth of the world”, and “the winds that flew from his bag allowed the sun to shine”. He’s typically depicted as a demon with green skin. I found these images on Wikipedia while researching Japanese art. Click the thumbnail below to see the full mural by Japanese artist Tawaraya Sōtatsu. It makes a great computer wallpaper!
“Fūjin and Raijin” by Tawaraya Sōtatsu
Why would Raijin “take children away”? This is my reasoning: Japan does have a lot of steep topography. Thunderstorms may form suddenly. A sudden storm, with heavy rain and the resultant flash flood, could indeed sweep away children. It would not be surprising for this to become the stuff of legend. Also noticeable about Raijin is that “halo” around him with the round objects arranged in a circle. It reminds me of “frontal symbols” on weather maps. The most severe thunderstorms are indeed associated with the passage of weather fronts.
Why would Fūjin be depicted as green? This one is tougher to argue. Japan is a verdant green country, and there is much paddy rice growing during summer when tornadoes are most frequent. Perhaps the “green skin” is the green debris caught up in the swirling vortex of tornado. Funnel clouds over rice fields would have a greenish hue to them. The “bag of wind’ carried by Fūjin could be the rotating bottom of the super-cell thunderstorm, from which tornadoes arise. There are likely Japanese cultural reasons why he “allows the sun to shine”, however I will defer to more knowledgeable scholars of Japanese culture than myself.
It is also interesting that the Kanji symbols for thunderstorms and tornadoes resemble the deities as well as the atmospheric phenomena.
The Thunderstorm symbols look like intense rain, and the down-strokes of this calligraphy may resemble lightning bolts. The Tornado symbols look like a funnel cloud, with a swirl at the base. The Kanji symbols also bear some resemblance to Thunderous and Tornadus — two legendary sky Pokémon from the Unova Region. These Pokémon are based on the Raijin and Fūjin legends. It is interesting that sometimes Pokémon games incorporate aspects of Japanese art and culture. It would also be understandable if a player would nickname these Pokémon after the Japanese deities. I taught my Thunderous the moves “Thunderbolt” and “Volt Switch” and “Dark Pulse”. All moves one could associate with thunderstorms.
Register Tornadus in your Pokedex!
Oddly, Tornadus has the “Hurricane” move which does not look like a hurricane, in fact it looks like a group of tornadoes. Next time you play Pokémon Black-and White consider the moves and/or name changes!
Images from the Pokemon Card Game
The name Fūjin also sounds like “Fujita” as in the late Theodore Fujita, who was THE expert on severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. The Enhanced Fujita Scale of tornadoes bears his name.
Professor Fujita in his lab.
If you ever hear of an “F-5” tornado, the F is for Fujita !!!
… or is it Fūjin?
on November 3, 2014