Second Draft

Fish on the Roof

Posted in Uncategorized by Jill Snider Lum on Friday, March 5, 2010

Japan is a country of earthquakes, and therefore, of fires.  In the past, the crime of arson was punishable by death; with houses being made of wood and paper, an entire community could be quickly destroyed by a fire, and to deliberately set one was seen as an act of mass murder.

Our trip to Japan included a visit to Himeji Castle, as Michael posted about.  We noticed that on the salient points of the roof, there were sculptures of fish with their tails raised.  It seemed strange, until we found out what they were:  talismans to prevent fire.  Makes sense.  Where there’s a fish, there’s got to be water, unless it’s a dead fish — and the fish depicted on the roofs of Himeji Castle are definitely alive.  I must find out whether these talismans were also used in the Sengoku Jidai.

Fish talisman on the top roof of Himeji Castle


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