Yamabushi.com : Annual Ethnobiological Conference (EN)
A dragonfly, or “tombo”, is a creature that is deeply rooted in Japanese symbolism.  Very few insects are represented in Japanese folk tales; the dragonfly is an exception.  In traditional folk tales it is a creature that is associated with the bringing of wealth.(Yanigata, 1948)  In samurai culture the dragonfly has a unique word that is used only in samurai context; kachi mushi.  Kachimushi literally means, “the bug that wins” or more commonly “Victory insect”.  It is revered historically as an insect that only flies forward and does not retreat, and because of this has a redeeming quality that is respected.  Symbols of dragonflies are often incorporated into the handles of swords or fashioned as three dimensional crests and affixed to the front of a samurai’s helmet in battle.(Sasama 1999) Dragonflies are used in several different “kamon” or family crest designs which are used to designate lineage.(Kaneda and Hawley 1994)  Crests are perhaps one of the most historically important symbols in Japanese culture.  Where honor and family ties are interrelated the crest of a family does much more than represent the line, it emulates ideals that are important to the family or qualities that the members of the family wish to live up to.(Dower 2000)  The famous general Honda Tadakatsu, was known to own a spear that cut a dragonfly straight through the middle.  Because of this it was thought to have magical powers and possess “mana” or spiritual energy.  Thus it was named “Tombogiri” (dragonfly cutter). (Sato 1983)

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