Why R Those Fish Up There?

posted Jun 27, 2020, 9:03 PM by Lorna Shapiro

In Japan, I visited Nara, an old capital of Japan and home to many amazing wooden temples.  The roofs of these temples are clay tiles, and sitting atop the tiles along the crest of the roofs were clay tiles cast like this…

There was a very nice Japanese man who was a volunteer providing English language tours of one of the temples, and he explained that many old wooden buildings in Japan have fish shaped tiles at their pinnacle. Turn out the Japanese believed that since fish live in water, putting some fish up there would be like symbolically protecting the building below the fish in a sea of water… hence protecting the wooden structure from fire! And here’s a link to a photo of the famous Himeiji Castle, another wooden structure, and check out it’s roofline…