November 10, 2011

The Lake Biwa dragon

Chapter 1 of Serpent of Time takes place at Hikone Castle on Lake Biwa.

Like Loch Ness, Lake Biwa has a dragon. According to the classic fairy tale, the Dragon Queen of Lake Biwa entreated Fujiwara no Hidesato to slay the giant centipede that killed her children. As a reward, he was given a bag of rice that never ran out. He was known ever since as the "Lord Bag of Rice."

But perhaps Lake Biwa's most incongruous aquatic attraction is a Mississippi-style paddlewheeler called "The Michigan."

When I was a kid, my family often vacationed on Lake George in upstate New York. We rode across the lake a couple of times on a steam-powered paddlewheeler, the "Minne-Ha-Ha." Incidentally, Lake George has its own aquatic monster, though this one is an admitted hoax.

There's something about deep-water lakes that seems to attract magical serpents and paddlewheelers.

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