A Little Roof-top God
Standing with dignity above the eaves of this machiya townhouse, the Taoist god Zhong Kui (or Shoki in Japanese) glares down at us. He is actually quite amusing standing only 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 inches) tall.
This legendary character, known as the “Demon Queller” in China is said to have appeared in the dream of the Tang emperor Xuanzong; appearing in the emperor’s dream to get rid of the other demons who were tormenting the emperor in his dream. The statue of the god up on the roof is not actually glaring at you but rather at the evil spirits that may bring illness to those inside the house. The people of Kyoto affectionately call him “Shoki-san” (Mr. Shoki).