The Baku has the trunk and tusks of an elephant, the eyes of a rhinoceros, the tail of an ox and the paws of a
tiger. It eats nightmares and ensures that the first dreams of the New Year are positive and auspicious.
Dragons look fearsome and powerful, but are considered to be benevolent and harbingers of good fortune.
The Nio Temple Guardian Statues are there for protection. Left with open mouth is Angyo symbolizing new
beginnings and on the Left is Ungyo, with the closed mouth, symbolizing the end of all things
Shishi--the ferocious lion dogs--greet you when you arrive at Okinawa Airport. They are usually depicted in
pairs with the closed mouth shishi keeping in good spirits and the open mouth shishi scaring off demons
Not exactly shishis or lion dogs, but it's a cute picture anyway. The owner went around
Koyasan visiting Temples and sharing good luck with 'the family"
A Shishi and Baku under the roof of an ancient Japanese Temple in Takaoka. Warding off evil spirits.
A shishi under the roof of the Kumano Shrine, Karuizawa
The Namahage --Fearsome Ogres-- come down from the mountains in Oga, howling and yelling to scare
children into being good for the New Year. They bring luck to those who allow them to enter their homes.
A Namahage drinking Sake to appease him
(I have a similar reaction to drinking sake)
Sake is a sure-fire way to chase away bad karma, especially around the time of the New Year. In fact, in some
temple lodgings, you can order 'Hanya-to' with your meal, which is Sake--but instead of referring to the alcoholic
beverage, Hanya-to refers to "attaining the Supreme Wisdom of the Buddha".
The entrance to the Ogre Cave on Megijima Island, near Takamatsu
You never know what you'll meet up with inside the cave
Guardians at the Nitenmon Gate at Senso-ji,
Steve at the amazing rock formations at Tojinbo.
Wishing you a monstrously happy holiday and New Year!
(and don't forget to put a Baku under your pillow on the night of January 1st)
Travel Writer, Speaker, Photographer