Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ishiganto stones

Seems one of the first things you learn about Okinawa is the meaning of the shisa guard dogs.  But a lesser known talisman is the 石敢當 sign.

The view pulling into our neighborhood

As I've been running out in town, I've noticed lots of little stone plaques inscribed with 石敢當 (ishiganto).  At first I thought, wow, a lot of Okinawan families have the same last name.  (Instead of displaying an address number, most Japanese homes will display the family name.  The Japanese address system can be very confusing (for example, there's two neighborhoods called 西原 (one's pronounced Iribaru, the other is Nishihara), so letting visitors know they've found the right house by identifying the family name is important.)

Ishiganto on the left, the family name plate on the right

Then in Makeman's garden area, I noticed a separate display for the ishiganto stones and name stones.  Come to find out, the ishiganto stones are placed where roads end in a T or splits to keep evil spirits from entering the house.

Always learning something new!

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