In January I went on the most amazing three day trip ever to Okinawa, a cluster of tropical islands to the south of Japan. On the final day we went to Taketomi-jima island, a beautiful small island filled with colourful flowers, traditional houses and very strange looking statues scattered all over the place.
These statues are called shisa and they are all over Okinawa but especially in Taketomi-jima island. When shisa come in pairs outside houses, the one on the left has it's mouth closed and the one on the right has it's mouth open. This is so that the closed mouth keeps good spirits in and the open mouth scares away evil spirits.
As well as the pairs of shisa there is also one shisa on top of each roof. These shisa are all in different positions, some are in the center of the roof and some are to the side. This is because inside Japanese houses there is a small shrine for members of the family who have passed away. In Okinawa there is a shisa placed on the roof directly above the shrine to protect the family's spirits.
Have you ever come across strange looking statues during your travels?