Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dramatic postcard featuring a dragon and a ghost [help needed]

This old postcard features a striking illustration of a monk (or similar holy man) sitting on a rock outcropping of a mountain and reading from a scroll. A flame-spouting dragon has appeared, and it carries the figure of a ghostly woman on its back. Other monks are praying and hiding their faces in fear.

So, what's the story with this bit of Japanese folklore?

I think we can solve this fairly easily with the help of someone who can read Japanese. Here's the text that's printed on the back of the postcard. Please pass this along if you know someone who can read this. Comments can be left below or emailed to chrisottopa (at)

Successful translation few key phrases from that passage should be enough to help us find the tale that this represents within Japanese folklore and its many magical creatures.

We're going to need human help, though. I tried running the image of the text through i2OCR, a free online Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program. I then plugged those results into Google Translate. The results were not very good. Some of the words and phrases gleaned from this method include rope, diamond, embroidery, tears, woman, "ice year," "living rope," pigeon, pike, eel, tooth, "deer rope" and swollen. Also, quite oddly, the word "turbocharger," which I'm fairly certain is not part of Japanese folklore.

Proper nouns from the OCR include Hanare, Tsukuba, RinHanare, Atsushi Me, Nirrana Tei, L Peng, Kaano, Ru Dea, Tsu Nawapa, Eshin and Sunrihokoraburu Homareko.

So I can definitely still use some help.

I'll revise this post and add feedback and updates as they roll in.

For now, I'll leave y'all with the image of the stamp box on this unused postcard.


  1. Translation:

    "The Manifestation of Shichi-Menten.

    For nine years, the great priest had been preaching to his acolytes. During that time, a lone woman would always sit quietly and listen. The woman was, in actuality, the Daija-Snake who had lived for ages in the great mountain. The great priest, knowing of this, preached to this woman regarding enlightenment, and just then, the woman appeared in her snake form and vowed to act as a protector goddess of the mountain. 'Lady Shichi Menten' is that woman."


    The story appears to be the origin story of a demigod within the pantheon of Nichiren-shu, a Buddhist sect in Japan (which I believe also has New Age-type followers in the U.S.). There are references to a mountain, which is likely meant to mean the location of the Nichiren-shu main temple/headquarters. The Japanese actually says "this mountain", which suggests that the document is something given to visitors to that temple itself. One educated guess is that the document is a little information pamphlet given to tourists who visited the temple. Some of the kanji characters, and the hiragana written to the side of those characters, are slightly archaic, suggesting that the document is fifty or a hundred years old (or more), or that perhaps the use was intentionally archaic to give it a more regal air (similar to using "thee" or "shalt" when quoting from the Bible).

    1. Wow. Thank you so much for this comment and ALL of your comments over the past few days. I am duly impressed with your multilingual skills and depth of knowledge on so many ephemera- and history-related topics. May I ask who you are and what has inspired you to be Papergreat's amazing comments benefactor? Peace!