Shisa on Taketomi Island

Lion-dog guardians abound in this subtropical paradise

By Mandy Bartok    - 1 min read

Okinawa is famous for its shisa, lion-dog guardians that are placed either on rooftops or in pairs on pillars outside of homes. They protect the homes from ill-fortune and natural disasters (ie typhoons and fires) and are much valued and loved by islanders. Over the years, the image of the shisa has changed a bit - the once serious looking lion-dogs now come in garishly bright colors and sport hilarious facial expressions but their purpose remains the same. A great place to spot many different varieties of shisa is Taketomi Island. Wander the streets of this well-preserved village and see how many you can discover.

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Mandy Bartok

Mandy Bartok @mandy.bartok

Japan resident for 9 years, with time spent in Okinawa, Kumamoto and Tokyo.