Kaeru (蛙): Frogs

Among popular Japanese spiritual symbols are frogs. There are many species of frogs in Japan as a result of flooding rice fields in Japanese agriculture. These creatures are often used in poetry and art, and are sometimes carried by travellers to make sure they return home safely from their journeys. The word ‘frog’ in Japanese means ‘return’, which is why the frog is considered a Japanese lucky animal and seen as good fortune in things returning.

Japan is home to 40 species of frogs in five families. The most common is the tiny Japanese tree frog, which is usually green but can change its color to match its background, and the Japanese rain frog.

There are Japanese folk stories of giant toads, two to three meters in height, that found high up on mountain streams. According to legend they can breath out great rainbows and use the rainbows to slide prey into their mouth and are able to walk on their hind legs. They are said to be particularly numerous around in the mountains of the Suo region of Yamaguchi Prefecture.

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