The Yamata no Orochi is ready to leap out of the annals of mythology and onto your car.

Considering that Japan is not only a country with a highly developed sense of aesthetics and plenty of local pride but is also home to a number of the world’s largest carmakers, you might expect the country’s license plates to be stylish, beautiful, or just plain cool. For the most part, though, you’d be wrong, as the vast majority of license plates in Japan, regardless of where your car is registered are just some dark green numerals and text on a plain white background.

▼ Unless you’re a hardcore kanji character linguistics buff, this is about as dull as a license plate can be.

But Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is finally starting to allow designers to mix things up, and they’re making up for lost time in a big way. In the spring, a number of communities unveiled their proposed designs for license plates that salute their local cultural heritage and/or natural scenery, but while they were all lovely, for sheer impact there’s no beating the just-announced upcoming license plate for the town of Izumo.

That’s the Yamata no Orochi, a legendary creature described in the Kojiki, a collection of mythology and folklore written in the 8th century. While the kanji for Orochi, 大蛇, literally translate as “giant snake” or “giant serpent,” the beast is often depicted as a dragon with eight ferocious heads.

Present-day Shimane Prefecture, where Izumo lies, is the setting for the Orochi legend, in which the fearsome dragon is slain by Susanoo, the Shinto god of storms and brother of the sun goddess Amaterasu, and the Orochi design plate was chosen from amongst a number of candidates in a poll to select the look of Izumo’s new license plate. And yes, we’ll save you the trouble of having to tailgate someone and count for yourself by confirming that all eight heads are indeed represented.

▼ A donation is required for the colored version, but the equally cool gray Orochi plate (seen above) can be had free of charge, while the yellow and green-bordered ones are for compact kei and commercial-use vehicles, respectively.

The runners-up were no slouches either, featuring local iconography such as the braided rope of marriage-oriented Izumo Shrine, representing the bond between spouses, and the curved magatama beads also associated with ancient Shinto traditions.

Unlike Japan’s Evangelion, cat pawprint, and woodblock painting license plates, which are all for scooters and other compact conveyances, the Izumo Orochi plates will be for ordinary passenger cars, and are expected to begin being issued in 2020, pending approval by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Cars owned by residents of Izumo, as well as the nearby towns of Okuizumo and Iinan have the option to display the plates, and while residents do have the option of sticking to the old, boring white and green design, we can’t imagine anyone wanting to pass up this opportunity to have arguably the coolest plates ever.

Source: Izumo City (1, 2) via Japaaan
Top image: Izumo City
Insert images: Izumo City, Wikipedia/BetacommandBot, Izumo City (2)

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he wouldn’t mind front license plate requirements so much if said license plates had dragons on them.