Shisa (or shiisaa) シーサー are the guardian lion dogs in Okinawa and Ryukyu culture. They always come in pairs (a male with open mouth on the right, a female with closed mouth on the left); the open mouth wards off evil spirits, and the closed mouth keeps good spirits in. A second mythology is reversed, saying that the male has his mouth closed to keep evil out of the home and the open-mouthed female is to share goodness with others.

There are many, many styles that you will see around… and they are everywhere, from rooftops, gates, schools, houses, stores.

A famous shisa statue in Okinawa is located in Yaese (south), the Tomori Stone Shisa. It has significance in Okinawa history, and has even survived with visible scarring the Battle of Okinawa.

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April 3rd is Shisa-no-hi シーサーの日, Shisa day. “Shi” is 4 in Japanese, and “san” is 3, together sounds similar to the word “shisa.” Tsuboya yachimun (pottery) district in Naha has some small events on this day.

I have an assortment of pictures of shisa from around the islands:


Address for Tomori Stone Shisa: https://goo.gl/maps/Cq7PuEyowmT2

 

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