Tradition In Okinawa: What Is A Shiisa?


Shiisa on Taketomi Island

While Okinawa is part of Japan, you’ll find many different traditions as opposed to the mainland. One of these cultural facets is the shiisa. On the islands in Okinawa, you’ll often see these dramatic lions perched on top of buildings or in front of yard gates. The reason for this is they’re thought to protect the inhabitants from bad weather, misfortune and evil.

You may notice some of them holding an object, either a ball, pinwheel or ladder. While the ladder represents reaching your accomplishments step-by-step at the age of 60, the ball symbolizes how one has control over their world at the age of 70. If you spot a pinwheel, this stands for the circle of life when a person is in their 80s and how they become like a child again.

Have you ever been to Okinawa? What unique cultural facets did you learn?

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