The raijū (雷獣, "thunder animal" or "lightning beast ") is a yōkai of Japanese mythology. Its name comes from the Japanese words rai (雷, "thunder") and jū (獣, "beast, animal"). His body is composed of light or fire.

He can take the form of a cat, dog, wolf, tanuki (another Japanese mythological creature), monkey, tiger, pangolin, rhinoceros, bat, mongoose, civet, squirrel, rabbit, rat, a tapir, a deer, a marine animal (usually a marine mammal such as a dolphin or a seal), an insect, an arachnid, a cleft palate, a badger, a dragon, a boar, a bear, a porcupine, a leopard, a fox or a weasel.

It can also fly as a ball of light (this creature was created to explain the phenomenon of ball lightning). Its cry is like thunder.

The raijū is the companion of Raiden, the Shinto god of lightning. The demon is usually calm and harmless, however, during storms it becomes very aggressive and destroys fields, trees and homes.

Another strange behavior of this creature is that it sometimes sleeps in the navel of humans. Besides, when the weather is bad, superstitious people systematically sleep on their bellies.

Raijū In popular culture

  • The raijū inspired the Pokémon Raichu, Elecsprint (in its blue wolf dog form) and Raikou and "lightning" in Cardcaptor Sakura.
  • Raiju is also the hero of an eponymous comic book, imagined by Stéphane Melchior-Durand (scenario) and Loïc Sécheresse (drawing), published by Gallimard in the "Bayou" collection.
  • In the movie Pacific Rim, one of the Kaijū is named Raijū.
  • In the manga Captain Tsubasa, Kojiro Huyga's (Mark Landers) fetish shot is named "Raijū Shot" (translated into French as "Tir du Tigre Foudroyant").
  • In the manga Inu-Yasha, two brothers named Hiten and Manten are lightning-wielding yōkai. They are nicknamed "The Raijū Brothers." Chapter 29 of the manga is also called this.
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