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Komainu Lion-like Statues

Guarding the entrance of many Shinto jinja

When I saw Komainu for the first time, I smiled as I found them funny. I called them “lions,” but my friend told me they were dogs. The word "Inu" means "dog" in Japanese language. I was interested in them and learned a bit of their history. Sando Komainu (visiting road) guarding the entrance or the inner shrine firstly appeared in the Edo era. Meant to ward off evil spirits, Komainu statues are almost identical, but one has an open mouth and the other closed. This represents the beginning and the end of all things. Some Komainu can be also found inside shrines. All of them are different and I really like them, maybe because I was born in the Year of the Dog – Inu desu!

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