Raijū is a mythological Friend that premiered in the fifth official Kemono Friends guidebook. She has yet to appear in any other official media.
Raijū has black hair cut straight around the head at about jaw-level, with a fringe at the front and reaching shoulder-length behind her neck.As the original myth where the body of Raijū is composed of lightning, she has yellow stripes on her hair and on the tip of her two long tails. Her eyes are green and she has long and thin eyebrows that look like thunders.
Her uniform is composed of a sleeveless grey shirt with a wide collar extending to the shoulders and a green necktie, a skirt with pressed-in ridges, torn up evening gloves and a lollipop hidden behind her. She wears black loafers with torn up black tights at the same color. As the other Friends, She also has her ears and tails that belongs to her myth.
Raijū is a legendary creature from Japanese mythology. Its body is composed of lightning and may be in the shape of a dog, a fox, a cat or a weasel, although they were sometimes said to look like a wolf or monkey as well. Raijū were said to descend to the earth upon lightning bolts, to ride atop lighting, or to travel about in hovering balls of lightning. Raijū is the companion of the Raijin, the Shinto god of lightning. While the beast is generally calm and harmless, during thunderstorms it becomes agitated, and leaps about in trees, fields, and even buildings.
With all of this fierce and dramatic imagery of flickering lightning and cracking thunder surrounding the Raijū, it is perhaps no wonder that the people of Japan have long feared and respected these otherworldly creatures. Additionally, although they may seem at first to be a totally mythical construct, these beasts were once considered to be quite real to the people of Japan. Most locals in rural areas were well aware of which woodlands were inhabited by Raijū and were careful to stay away during storms. In fact, areas said to be the lairs of the Raijū were for the most part avoided altogether, as they invoked a potent fear in most people.
Such creatures were almost always described as having been captured after storms, and typically had the appearance of something weasel-like in nature with prominent, sharp claws. Sideshow owners would sometimes dress them up in traditional clothing, and make a big event out of stormy days, when predictably the beasts would become snarling, whirling terrors, much to the delight of paying customers. In addition to live Raijū, there are many alleged mummies of these creatures kept in locations around Japan. One such mummy is kept at Yuzanji temple in Iwate prefecture. Another similar looking Raijū mummy is kept at Saihō-ji temple in Niigata prefecture.
- Raijū 雷獣 in japanese mean "thunder animal" or "thunder beast".
- In old Japan it was said that trees scored by lightning had been the work of Raijū claws, and that scorched tree trunks were the result of their wrath.
- Another of Raiju's peculiar behaviors is sleeping in human navels. This prompts the Raijin to shoot lightning arrows at Raiju to wake the creature up, and thus harms the person in whose belly the demon is resting. Superstitious people therefore often sleep on their stomachs during bad weather, but other legends say that Raiju will only hide in the navels of people who sleep outdoors.
1. "The Thunder Beasts of Japan" by Brent Swancer. Mysterious Universe.
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