As you have already noticed, our school logo is a
pair of Shisa. A Shisa is an Asian Lion Dog. There are many different styles from
throughout Asia. Some common names include Shisa, Shi-Shi Dog, Kura-Shisa, Fu Lion
Dog, Foo Dog.
Our logo is based on the Okinawan style that I grew
up with while we lived on Okinawa, Japan for 10 years. If a single icon could properly
represent the resilient spirit of Okinawa, it would be the mythical lion-dog shisa,
which playfully adorn rooftops and entryways, storefronts and homes throughout the
Okinawan islands. Usually in pairs, a female shisa's mouth is open to beckon good
fortune, and a male shisa's mouth is closed in a quirky snarl-grin to keep the good
The shisa originally came from China, but a mythical
story to explain its powers suggests that a long time ago on Okinawa island, there
was a young boy named Chiga-san whose village was constantly terrorized by an angry
sea dragon. After one particularly ferocious attack, the king of Okinawa, concerned
for the villagers, approached the young Chiga-san and gave him a small statue attached
to a piece of rope. He explained to the boy that this shisa statue should be placed
at the seaside in front of the village, and that it would protect the people from
harm. Chiga-san accepted the statue, a dull, brownish lion figurine with a fierce
snarl on its lips, bowed in respect to the king, and did as he was told.
The next day, the waves crashed loudly, signalling
the approach of the dragon, and the villagers ran from their homes, eyes expectantly
on the tiny shisa statue perched on the beach. The dragon sprang up from the sea,
then froze at the sight of the shisa statue, which had begun to tremble, a loud
rumbling coming from deep within. The statue suddenly burst open and a huge shisa
roared as it bounded out and attacked the dragon. The two creatures disappeared
into the sea, and the villagers feared the shisa had been killed. Moments later,
far off in the ocean, a blast of water shot up and the fighting creatures re-emerged,
only to sink down into the water again. Much to the surprise of the onlooking villagers,
a tiny island suddenly appeared where there had been none before. Chiga-san kept
watching for the shisa, which never reappeared, but gasped when he looked down at
the shisa statue on the beach. It was completely intact without even a crack.
Word soon spread of the shisa's bravery and the peace
that had come to Chiga-san's village. Other villages soon began making their own
shisa until they came to be known as the guardians of the Okinawan islands.
The shisa character later made its way to mainland
Japan in the form of kumainu, which are often seen guarding the gates of Shinto
shrines, but do not have the peculiar omnipresence of the shisa in Okinawa.
I collect Shisa of all sizes and styles. Statues,
masks, carvings, noren, etc. If you ever find a unique piece or have something to
sell please feel free to contact us . But please keep
in mind that I collect them for personal enjoyment not resale so the prices have
to be reasonable.
Here is our dojo's uniform patch.
Here are the traditional Okinawan Shisa. Notice their shapes and coloring.
This is the most unique pair that I have collected. This is the only pair that I
have ever seen that clearly depicts the gender of the male shisa when you flip it
Here is a pair guarding the front gate of a home on Okinawa.
These are from when I was a Boy Scout on Okinawa.