|Shoki-san, glaring authoritatively over the eaves of a town house.
|Eyes wide open, a small earthenware image of the
Taoistic immortal, Shoki-san, glares out into space from the roof of a house.
Facing the street from above the eaves of Kyoto's town houses, Shoki-san is as
intense in these modern times as ever. This legendary character is said to have
appeared in a dream of the Tang emperor, Xuan Zung, and brought him back to health
by expelling the devil of illness. Therefore, Shoki-san stands above the eaves,
receiving prayers from the house occupants for safety in the home and protection
from illness. Shoki-san is easily recognized by his heavy beard and the short
sword in his right hand, while the hems of his garments are forever trailing in
the wind. There is something strange about those wide, glaring eyes. A closer
examination suggests a facial expression that is not without humour. Is there
anything more one could ask for in a deity protecting our homes.