On the sides of the entrance to a Shinto shrine, you will always find two statues, Shrine guardians meant to ward of evil spirits. Usually, these guardian statues are representing koma-inu, lion-like fantastic creatures, or foxes (the kitsune guardians specific to the Inari shrines) or even monkeys (specific to Hie shrines).
However, while visiting the famous Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto, you will also find this small but picturesque Otoyo-jinja, which is guarded by… rats (koma-nezumi).
Why a shrine guarded by rats? This is a very, very old shrine (established in the year 887) and one of its legends says that its main deity was once caught in the middle of a burning field and was saved by a rat who showed an underground passage…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: