Komainu is a pair of statues in the form of imaginary lion-like creatures, which is commonly found at the entrance of Shinto shrines.Komainu statues were used to be called Shishi-Komainu, in which the right statue is Shishi with the mouth open and the left is Komainu with the mouth closed.The horn on the head is also a distinctive feature of Komainu, compared to Shishi.
Design & Style
Aum(uh-un) gyo Style
When komainu was first introduced from China, both statues were identical. However, due to the influence from Buddhism, it gradually started to take the shape of aum gyo style, an open and closed mouth pair. A-gyo, the open mouth statue is installed on the right, while un-gyo, the closed mouth statue is installed on the left, symbolizing the beginning and the end.
Komainu statues were used to be called Shishi-Komainu, where komainu, the left statue has the horn on the head, and Shishi, the right statue is hornless.