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IMAGE: Ryūzu Kannon (drawing by Hokusai, 1760-1849)
Ryūzu Kannon is one of 33 forms of Kannon in Japan. Says the Flammarion Guide to Buddhism: “Represented as a woman seated on a dragon or on the back of a sea-turtle. In China, this form sometimes holds a child in her arms, and is confused with a giver of children.”
This goddess is often depicted riding a dragon, seated on a dragon, or sometimes standing next to one. Ryūzu Kannon may have originated at Japan’s sacred Mt. Hakusan, but her inclusion in the Chinese Buddhist pantheon suggests otherwise.
The Japanese karate school known as Isshin-Ryū Karate, adopted Ryūzu Kannon as its patron. To practitioners of Isshin-Ryū Karate, she is known as Isshinryū no Megami. This can be translated directly as Goddess of Isshinryū.
Says a practitioner: “The goddess Isshinryū-no-Megami is based on a daydream that Master Tatsuo Shimabuku had in the 1950’s while creating his Isshinryū system. In this dream, Ryuzu Kannon (riding a dragon) came to Shimabuku and told him that he had enough knowledge and experience to create his own style of karate. She told Shimabuku to create an image of her incorporating his vision for the new style.”