Trivia about Ryugasaki City
Where is Ryugasaki?
Ryugasaki City, where we are headquartered, is located in southern Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. It is around 12 kilometers east to west and nine kilometers north to south, with an area of 78.55 square kilometers. Although it is a small city with a population of slightly less than 80,000, the 340th largest city in Japan, it is almost in the center of the Japanese archipelago. It also acts as a bedroom suburb of Tokyo, a globally renowned metropolis.
Ryugasaki City is next to Ushiku City, which is famous for the Ushiku Daibutsu, the tallest bronze standing Buddha statue in the world. However, look at a map and you’ll see that Ushiku Pond is actually located in Ryugasaki City. Northern Ryugasaki City has become urbanized with the development of Ryugasaki New Town, Tsukuba-no-sato Industrial Park and others. The southern part of the city is a river plain between the Kinu River and Kokai River. It is a grain belt with abundant rice paddies. Ushiku Pond, in the west, boasts rich nature where swans come every winter. The area is also has a pleasant climate, with an annual average temperature of around 14°C, annual rainfall of about 1,000 millimeters, and little snow.
龍 and ケ of 龍ケ崎 (Ryugasaki)
Ryu in Ryugasaki uses the 龍 in kanji. However, the name of the station on the Kanto Railway is 竜ヶ崎. Which do you think is correct?
The city government receives many inquiries about this issue and offers an explanation on its official website. According to the website, neither 龍 nor 竜 is incorrect; both have been used in materials published by the city government. This is because龍 is not included in the daily-use kanji characters and therefore 竜 was used for convenience. Since 1996, however, 龍 has been used consistently as the proper character. The city government also seems to be asked whether ケ (kanji for ga) should be large ケ or small ヶ. The government consistently uses the large one.
Is the character 竜 also old?
On the other hand, Ryugasaki Tetsudo, the predecessor of the Kanto Railway Ryugasaki Line, started operating in 1900. The character 竜 was used even in those days, before the idea of daily-use kanji characters existed. I thought that 竜 was the new kanji form of 龍, but learned that 竜was not created recently and has been used in the past. This is why the name of the Kanto Railway station has been 竜ヶ崎 since the old days.
Why was the city named Ryugasaki?
There are various stories about why the city was named Ryugasaki, such as because the area had many tornadoes (竜巻 in kanji), because the shape of the town looks like a dragon (龍), and because the area had been governed by the Ryugasaki family since the Kamakura Period (1185 to 1333).
One impressive story is because it lies ahead (saki in Japanese) of the land where a dragon fell from the sky. A long time ago, the dragon that was the god of the pond made rain appear in response to the prayers of farmers who were experiencing a drought. Seven days later, the body of the dragon, which was dismembered into three parts, fell from the sky. Temples named Ryukakuji (dragon horn temple), Ryufukuji (dragon belly temple), and Ryubiji (dragon tail temple) were constructed to entomb the dragon that had saved the people. The story is romantic, similar to the old tales of Japan.