Revealing Your Inner Dragon

15. 01. 2024

This Lunar New Year we wave goodbye to the gentle and tender rabbit and welcome the roar, power and ferocity of the dragon. Seen as the luckiest and most auspicious of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Dragon is expected to bring opportunity, energy and abundance.  

Yet dragons are depicted in ways that vary greatly across time and space. From the first descriptions of terrifying dragon-like creatures in ancient Mesopotamian texts dating from the 2nd millennium BC, to the wisdom of the winged-serpent Amaru of 13th century Incan mythology, to the friendship between Chihiro and Haku, the Japanese river spirit in Studio Ghibli’s animated classic Spirited Away, dragons can evoke feelings of fear, of awe, but undoubtedly, fascination.   

As a company that aspires to champion cross cultural understanding and partnership, we asked Eat members to give their interpretation of the dragon, what it means to them and where dragons have brought energy and abundance in their lives.  

Kanako Fujioka - Project Coordinator

I guess dragons can be anything you want them to be. For me, they are fierce protectors that guard princesses in towers and treasures in caves. They also make loyal companions that would beat any plane ride. At the same time, I do wonder if some are similar to dinosaurs in that their short arms can sometimes make them clumsy…

Kyle Ahmet - Art Director

Dragons to me will always be synonymous with Dragonball Z. It was a big part of my childhood and my first exposure to Japanese culture. This would lead me to start studying Japanese and then eventually moving to Japan for school and work. So just a big thanks to Shenron the dragon and the Dragonball crew for sparking that fire in me!

Susie Krieble - Project Coordinator

Dragons bring up memories reading Harry Potter, going to the Chinese New Year parade as a kid with my family, and catching dragon-like creatures in Pokémon. I am excited to see what dragon memories I can make with Eat in 2024!

Chiemi Suyama - Senior Designer

I first encountered Anne McCaffrey's "The Dragonriders of Pern" book series (Hayakawa Bunko) when I was in the upper grades of elementary school. In the series, humans' partner with dragons to battle against a spore that threatens the whole planet. A lifelong bond between human and dragon is made when the dragon hatches. I longed to have this and dreamed of becoming a Dragonrider (even though I am not a good fighter). The strong-willed female protagonist and the world-building of the books were overwhelming to me at the time. And since then, a dragon will always be a symbol of strength and kindness to me, and very much a Western-style winged dragon!

Robert Costelloe - Head of Growth

It was while living in China for a few years that I realised how highly regarded dragons are there. This gave me a great sense of pride, particularly because I was born in the year of the dragon. Now being in Japan, I feel privileged to be able to see the widely different, but positive views of dragons, so different from the typical serpent of terror depicted in Western literature and popular culture. With 2024 being a Wood Dragon, a symbol of spring, growth and strength, I am excited for what my Chinese zodiac has in store for me in the year ahead!

Ayako Chujo - President

Have you ever seen a dragon? Of course, you don't see them in zoos or in the wild, but you do see them at shrines – at the chōzuya basins which feature stone dragons with water pouring from their mouths, water visitors use to purify themselves. Also on the ceiling of Shokokuji Temple in Kyoto – the Nakiryu or ‘Crying dragon’ where visitors clap and the sound bounces from floor to ceiling and back again. There’s the striped dragon in Elmer's Adventure, and a similar one in Pokémon. And what about the imperial dragon of the Chinese Emperor or the red dragon of Wales? They don’t exist but there really are quite a few of them! Wishing you a good year.

Weijing Zhu - Strategist

Ever since I was small, the dragon has been auspicious – a holy creature that brings good fortune, appearing as illustrations in books, as cut-paper artworks, or in paintings. Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings introduced the concept of Western dragons to me. These dragons were portrayed as intimidating creatures and much more vividly than those in traditional Chinese paintings. When I think about Chinese dragons, I picture them in 2D, but Western Dragons are always 3D in my mind. It’s interesting how perceptions can shift based on different cultural references!

Steve Martin - Executive Creative Director - and his daughter Claire

Dragons can be good and bad, but they’re always strong. We made this dragon from ‘found’ paper – paper that was lying around the apartment, left over from the holidays. A (slightly indirect) reminder to be stronger and more sustainable in 2024.

Alison Jambert - Communications Director

'It simply isn't an adventure worth telling if there aren't any dragons.' - J.R.R. Tolkien
My first real memory of dragons was reading The Hobbit and the introduction of the mighty Smaug. Reading is where I am happiest and that’s what I remember, not that Dragons were terrifying as portrayed by Tolkien. Having spent over half of my life in Asia my perception of dragons are strength, courage, respect and wisdom, as well as being symbols of good fortune and happiness. Here’s hoping 2024 brings this to us all.