Okinawa #1: Shisa (シーサー)

It has been raining a lot recently. This is not unexpected, as we are currently in tsuyu – or rainy – season. Still, it’s a bit tiring when it’s gray and wet everyday. Recently we’ve been planning a trip to the Kyushu area, and I’ve been wishing we don’t have to wait until August for it… we could just get up and go now. Some other friends are in Okinawa, and I’m very jealous!

Because of that, I thought I’d visit Okinawa with you today. Okinawa’s very first postcard from way back in 2009 is of Shisa (Shishi on mainland Japan), a guardian lion-dog from traditional Okinawan Ryuukyuuan culture, which is a variation of the Chinese-style “fu” dog. These statues, sometimes cute and funny, sometimes fierce, are placed in pairs on rooftops or gates to ward off evil. Traditionally, one dog has an open mouth, the other closed.

While the main element to this postcard is the Shisa, two other Okinawan symbols are present: the red roof tiles that are a traditional element to Okinawan houses, and a bright hibiscus flower, which grows all over Okinawa. My first (and only ;_;) trip to Okinawa, I saw all three!

Funny shisa with the red roof tiles in the background

Bright hibiscus flower – I bought some hibiscus tea as a souvenir!

This picture is one of my favorites!

Shisa are popular souvenirs in Okinawa, and can be found at many shops in various sizes, shapes, and colors. My husband opted to buy a pair in traditional style, while I chose a brightly colored pair:

Kenji’s pair

And mine. I call them “Smiley” and “Sunshine”!

Ahhh. I’d give a lot to be in Okinawa right now… hope you all can get the chance to go to Okinawa soon, and pick up this postcard plus a cute souvenir while you’re there!