IS JAPAN COOL? OKINAWA
1. Statues of the imaginary beast from Okinawan folklore.
2. Pairs of the statues can be found throughout Okinawa — on top of gateposts and roofs, on high mounds in villages, etc. These are believed to ward off evil spirits.
3. Views differ, but some sources claim that shiisaa may have originated from lion and dog guardians of the ancient Orient, like Chinese shishi, Japanese komainu, and even the Egyptian Sphinx.
4. The shiisaa statues are generally made of stone, ceramics, or cement plaster.
5. Shiisaa is the Okinawan pronunciation of shishi (lion). People from the Yaeyama Islands near Okinawa’s main island pronounce this shiishii.