Shenmue symbols, old wisdom, legends and their interpretations

Jan 23, 2019
Dragon comes with the storm, tiger comes with the wind.

This is an old saying that i have heard before from a native chinese people, that i have met at a gathering in London years ago, when i worked in London for a while. But when i told my GF to come and see me play through Shenmue 1 and 2 and talk about the details and symbols that chinese culture is throwing at us here - my GF being native to HK and have cantonese as a mother language, she has strong ties to her culture and she always nag me with some sayings and how they do things differently compared to my home country Slovakia, the UK where she went for studies and her homeland. She was okay with that and sat with me through the whole game. We made it a Shenmue evening and had a long discussions about all chinese related things we could find there.

I would like to have this thread full of this point outs of what this and that could mean and how it all sticks together, which in the end gives an amazing experience to all of us.

Like the beginning of this message says, let start with the saying

Dragon comes with the storm, tiger comes with the wind.

As you remember the very first intro of Shenmue where we get to meet with Lan Di. We see Ryo coming home and we can guess from the way he comes home that something is off. The snow changes to rain, which is mentioned a lot in the first part of the game when Ryo is asking for some info about that sad day. Here the first part of the saying we can apply. Dragon comes with the strom. We see Lan Di having an attire with dragon motive. When a dragon shows on a day like this, he will change fate of someone else not his. Here we see that Lan Di is a very strong fighter and a leader. This type of people have the ability and strength to make a change or an impact on their surroundings. The fate changes for our Ryo. He then decides to pursue Lan Di and avenge his late father. So now we need to learn who is the tiger from the saying above. We can see the symbol imediately on Ryo´s jacket but we dont see it clearly for a bit. Ryo is on the journey to become the tiger. We get to learn this in Shenmue 2. When Ryo is in Guilin and is meetinng Shenhua for the first time. There is a strong wind blowing and in the river we see a white deer that needs saving. Tiger comes with the wind and changes the fate of Shenhua. Here the process is slow. As Ryo and Shenhua is walking into to the village through Guilin, we can here the wind slowly blow. This shows the impact of Ryo, who came into the life of Shenhua and the things in village started to move on.

Here i wanted to point out. The river and the tiger. In the old legend how the Tiger became a zodiac sign. The heavenly emperor decided to make a race and which animal came first to him, he would name the month after him and the next month after the second runner and so on. There is a river with strong current mentioned in the legend. The tiger came among the first animals but not quite behind. The emperor was surprised and asked him why such a strong animal and a great swimmer came so late. The tiger mentioned that when he stand before the river he saw a rabbit on a wooden plank struggling to get across the river and that the strong current would definitely take him. He decided to help him cross the river by moving the plank but was so tired he needed a short break. The emperor liked the deed the tiger did and he named him the third animal on the zodiac.

Hope you liked it :)
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I see...
Nov 20, 2018
Favourite title
Shenmue II
Currently playing
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Thanks for this write up! The snow turning to rain is stressed so much by the residents you talk to at the begin of the game, it seems so obvious now that it meant something more significant. I also never really thought that Ryo would represent a tiger, but it makes a lot of sense now (besides the fact he has a tiger on his jacket). The legend of the river and tiger is so fascinating; it has so many blatant similarities to the river scene at the beginning of Guilin in Shenmue 2 it can’t possibly be a coincidence!

I love discovering the symbolism and meaning behind things, and with Shenmue, it seems there is no end to what you can find! It must be amazing playing through the games with your girlfriend, first-hand knowledge of the culture must really help in finding details such as this.

If you ever have any other points you’ve found, I’d love to read more of this!