ShiShi the Guardian Lion

Mar 4th, 2009 | By | Category: Museums, Photo Gallery, Tokyo and Vicinity

ShiShi, Guardian Lions, are often found guarding either side of a Shinto Shrine but they are commonly used a decorative elements for homes and businesses as  they are believed to protect against or ward of evil.  The Guardian Lions are just one way of determining the difference between a temple and a shrine – do you know the others?

This beautiful copper shishi is is one of a pair guarding the entrance to the art-deco mansion that was once home to Japan’s Prince Asaka and is now home to the the Tokyo Metropolitan Tien Art Museum in Meguro.

Shisa Guardian Lion

The grounds of the museum are home to modern sculptures in a lovely garden setting and a Japanese Tea House with a wandering path around a small but picturesque pond.

Visit the museum simply to see the house whose art deco charm is worth a visit in of itself, take in one of the scheduled exhibitions, or stop for a leisurely lunch at the cafe after a stroll through the garden.

This and other great images of Japan can be found in The Nihon Sun Japan Photo Gallery.

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  1. Stunning. Would you say they are traditional in style or are they more in fitting with the style of Prince Asaka’s former mansion.

  2. Thanks for stopping by David. I would say yes to both parts of your question. The concept of the lion as a protector came from China with Buddhism and I’ve seen a variety of different forms. Some can be a bit scary in appearance (the lion dog or shisa) while others, like this one, are very beautiful and work well with classical as well as art deco design.

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