Ushi-oni, the “ox demon” or “cow ogre” is a legendary creature from the Japanese folklore, represented in art as an ox-headed monster with various types of body, depending on region.
Ushi-oni is usually believed to be a malevolent creature, but in Uwajima, on the Shikoku Island, it is considered friendly, a monster that protects and keeps away the evil spirits. This singular custom is believed to have originated at the end of the 16th century when, during the invasion of Korea, the lord Katō Kiyomasa and his soldiers used as protection from enemy arrows an armored cart wrapped in cow hide and decorated with an angry looking fake ox head, hence an Ushi-oni…
Today, the Ushi-oni is featured in the local Uwajima Ushi-oni Festival and it is represented on the town’s manhole covers, as you can see in today’s photo…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: