What is “Komainu” at Shrine in Japan?

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What means Komainu? They are in front of the Japanese shrines, and also the shapes of them are so cute to take a photo. In fact, the origin of Komainu is in Ancient Egypt? Is the only left statue called Komainu? I explain about them and more.

Komainu and Shi Shi dog

Komainu is the wooden statue on the side of Shrine’s street and the original shrine. In fact, do you know the left statue is only called Komainu?

The statue seen on the right side was used to be called Shishimai. After Kamakura period, both of them were used to be called Komainu together.

What meaning is Komainu? Komainu is Yokai? lion dog?

Komainu is an animal monster different from Shishimai. Shishimai was said to be coming from Egypt and Western Asia.

Originally, they are coming from two lions on the bottom of budda statue in Japan. Indian old shaka statue should have two lions on his bottom.

Komainu meaning and role

Komainu has the meaning to keep from the dark power. As they are staying on both sides of the shrine, they are said to have rolled as watchdogs.

What different point between Komainu and Shisa

Komainu came from the same origin as Shishimai. Shishimai is connected to real life. Shishimai is not staying as the style of twins, and also they have a roll to save houses and villages from the dark power.

Komainu is different between Right and left

During the Heian period, there are Komainu having closed mouths and open mouths there on both sides of left and right. Until the Kamakura period, the statue having open mouth is Shishimai, while the statue having closed mouth is Shishimai and other animal monsters.

These days, they have no horns, and also there is only Komainu having an open mouth.

The position of statues is different depending on Aun. Seen from the front, the left side is A, while the right side is Un. In the past, they called from the right, it is easy to remember by calling Aun from the right.

Aun means that it is from the first to the end. Aun is from the old Indian language, and it also means all of the things start from A to Un.

Moreover, Aun is used to the proving called Aun no Kokyu, which means more than 2 people breathe well together.

Toching Komainu

You may think not to touch Komainu as Komainu are in the shrine. But it is available to touch them, so you can take a photo together and touch them.

Komainu is interesting culture in Japan!

Komainu which I have been interested in since I visited the shrine has this meaning truly. If you want to know more about shrine and temple in Japan, and want to try to go to shrine having cute Komainu, please check the below sites.


The characteristic points of Nagano prefecture are a fusion between affluent nature and Japanese traditional lifestyle. Nagano is constructed in many town and village, where have originality. These regions have a different history, different culture, different nature, we can feel a side of Nagano as a treasure box.

Northern Alps in Nagano


”NAGANO TRIP” is sightseeing contents site to offer tourist information about Nagano prefecture in Japan. People who are interested in Nagano can learn and know about sightseeing contents before visit Nagano. In addition, visitor can learn and enjoy while traveling and after the trip.

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Nice to meet you. I’m Karina, a university student. Now I’m living in Nagano, Ueda, so I’ll introduce very much about Nagano, Japan! I also have been to study abroad twice in Italy and Greece. This is why I could write traveling articles in English. My favorite things are to go to a cafe and book shop whose buildings are renovated! After you read my articles, I’d like you to know about Nagano and be interested in many popular spots there.