Short short with English summary
This year is the year of DRAGON. In Japan, there is a counting way based on the duodecimal system originated from China. The twelve animals, $B!H(BRat, Bull, Tiger$B!D(B.$B!I(B represent number 1 to number 12. Number 1 is rat and dragon is number 5. So this year is one of the 5th years in the long series of the duodecimal numbers which have continued for thousands of years. The Japanese greeting cards are often illustrated with the pictures of the animal corresponding to the $B!H(BYear$B!G(Bs Animal$B!I(B.
If I estimate that a fourth of Japanese has sent New Year$B!G(Bs cards and if a third of them illustrated with DRAGON, then 10milions Dragons are flying over Japan this year.
Dragon in this 12 animals system is extra ordinate, the only non existing imaginative creature. The other ones are the common animals such as rat, bull, tiger, rabbit and so on. And the dragon is accepted in the cultures only in Chinese and European worlds. Neither in the Hindi nor Muslim world meet we the dragon. For Europeans, the dragon is incarnation of evil doomed to be killed by the saints and the brave knights. But for us the dragon represents ambitiousness and power. We Japanese have adopted it in the personal and other innumerable sorts of names,
In China I have never met a person with his or her name adopting dragon. Perhaps, since the dragon has been the symbol of the power of the Emperors. In Japan $B!H(BDragons$B!I(B is a name of a well-known baseball team. But in USA there are so many professional sport teams with all sorts of animals such as $B!H(BTigers, Bears, Panthers, Colts, Bulls and so on$B!I(B but not $B!H(BDragons$B!I(B. By the way talking about imaginative creatures, $B!H(BGiants$B!I(B are accepted and keeping firm position in both USA and Japan.
To draw these imaginative creatures is difficult. For so many years, so many times, the dragons have been painted. But still the dragons in the old palace in Beijing are very humorous against their original purpose to show the dignity and the power of the Emperors.
I have never seen emblems of giants for the sport teams probably because the figures might be considered too humorous or too funny caricature.
There are many drawings of world famous politicians. These drawings which I can remember are all comical caricatures. It means the politicians, politicians who work for the people, for the society, are probably only imaginative creatures.