Yonekoyaki Shisa Sculpture, Ishigaki © Touristinjapan.com
Attractions, Okinawa

Yonekoyaki Shisa Sculpture Park

The Shisa, a creature which is half dog half lion, is a deeply rooted and very popular part of Okinawan culture. At the Yonekoyaki Shisa Sculpture Park in Ishigaki you can experience a local artists trippy and colorful take on this piece of Okinawa tradition. Here dozens of enormous and colorful, lovable sculptures with wacky expressions have been put on display on a field near the popular Yonehara Beach.

Yonekoyaki Shisa Sculpture park is located on a lush, green field nestled between Yonehara Beach and the mystical, foggy Ishigaki Mountains. This park, which is free for anyone to enter, is part of the Yonekoyaki pottery, and is quite a special experience. Throughout the park stands dozens of overly colorful, psychedelic sculptures, many of which are several meters tall. Most of the sculptures are wacky and childlike representations of the Shisa, a half lion half dog creature found in Okinawan folklore.

The Shisa creature has a long history in Okinawa, and is deeply rooted in it’s history and culture. The beast is seen all across the Okinawan islands where it is often placed on the roof, or by the entrance, to a home. The Shisa is often seen installed in pairs, one with a closed mouth and one with an open mouth. The function of the the Shisa is to keep evil outside the home, a task handled by the open-mouthed Shisa, but also to keep the good inside the home, a task which is taken care of by the closed-mouthed counterpart.

Shisa figures have likely come to the Okinawan islands from China in the 14th century, at a time when Okinawa was not part of Japan, but was a kingdom of it’s own – a kingdom which had extensive trade with China. The shisa is a variation of the East-Asian guardian lion which is found not only in China, but in most of Asia. While in most of Asia the guardian lions are made with a protective and fierce appearance, in Japan they have over time, like for many other figures, become cute mascots. The shisa sculptures shown at the Yonekoyaki Sculpture Park are wacky and colorful, and reflect how this historic figurine has been adapted to modern Japanese culture.

Getting there

By car: the park is located about midway on route 79. It is 30 minute drive north from Ishigaki city. You can park near Yonehara Beach.

Address: 656-1 Fukai, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0451
Phone: +81 980882016
Website: yonekoyaki.com

By bus: from Ishigaki Bus Terminal by the port you can take bus route 2, 8 or 11 to Yonehara.

Suggested Hotels Ishigaki

VIVOVIVA Ishigakijima
Book with Agoda
Book with Booking.com
ANA InterContinental Ishigaki Resort
Book with Agoda
Book with Booking.com
Book with Agoda
Book with Booking.com

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