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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Japanese Roof Gargoyles onigawara


Japanese roof gargoyles or onigawara are a common sight on temples and old houses.

oni means demon and kawara is tile. The gargoyles attached to Japanese roofs are to ward off evil spirits and the constant threat of fire for the wooden buildings below.

Japanese Roof Gargoyles onigawara

The practice of adding decorative roof tiles to buildings came from China and began in the Nara Period (710-794) in Japan.

Below is a photograph of some of the earliest types of decorative roof tiles from the Nara Period on display at the Excavation Site Exhibition Hall at Nara Palace Site in Nara.

Nara Period Roof Tiles, Excavation Site Exhibition Hall, Nara.

Japanese castle roofs commonly display the mythical shachi - a dolphin or killer whale type creature that protects from fire. The shachi are usually in male and female pairs.

If you have a picture of a Japanese gargoyle and wish to display it on JapanVisitor please contact us.

Monkey roof statues in Nara.

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