When Ray Fisher first started to document his trips to Japan in the 1970s, he couldn’t understand why the Japanese had never seen the dragon.
“It was as if the Japanese thought it was a little odd to be out on the water with a dragon,” Fisher says.
“I think it was because they thought the Japanese were just trying to keep a low profile.”
Fisher went on to become the first American to fly to Japan as a member of the Royal Japanese Air Force, and he was fascinated by the dragon’s remarkable adaptations to Japanese culture.
“The Japanese had been fascinated with dragons for centuries,” he says.
The Japanese are often described as “toddlers,” which is a reference to their tendency to play around with new concepts while maintaining an open mind.
Fisher also noted the way that Japanese culture and nature is intertwined.
“If you look at a Japanese tree, there’s the root that you plant, and then the bark that grows on top,” he explains.
“And you’re not just looking at the root but also looking at how the roots work.”
Fisher’s fascination with the Japanese dragon started in 1976, when he began to take photos of the creatures in Japan.
Fisher had already made a few short films when he decided to get back to the land of his birth.
In 1976, he and his friend John C. Scott set out on a six-month journey to Japan with the intention of documenting the dragon in his own words.
The next year, Fisher and Scott returned with a book titled Dragon Tales: Japan’s Great Dragon and Other Tales from Its History, Folklore and Art.
Fisher took to writing about the dragon and his adventures with it in his book.
“My goal was to capture the essence of the dragon as it was known in Japanese culture,” Fisher explains.
He says that he wanted to portray the dragon through the eyes of an American.
Fisher wanted to give the dragon a Japanese name.
“Japanese people called it ‘Aomori’ in reference to the dragon,” he recalls.
“They wanted to say ‘The dragon is the spirit of the sea.'”
Fisher says the Japanese have always known dragons as mythical creatures.
“But the Japanese are very aware of the fact that we’re talking about something that is really real, and that it is not something that we can control,” he adds.
The Dragon’s Tail is a book that captures all of this and more.
The book is divided into four sections: the story of a Japanese dragon called “Aomoro” and the history of the Great Blue-eyed Dragon.
Fisher and his fellow researchers, including David G. Williams and Susanne T. Köhler, use the book as an opportunity to explore and celebrate the unique characteristics of the Japanese.
“This book is really an attempt to explain to the public and to the general public what this is about,” Fisher said.
Fisher says that the book is also a chance for people to learn about Japanese culture, nature, and history.
“That’s what this book is about, it’s about the people and their unique relationship with this thing,” he said.
The Great Blue