- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 27 Jul 2017
They are generally roof tiles or statues that depict a Japanese ogre (oni) or demon. Prior to the late-12th century, they tended to be decorated with floral or plant designs, but with the arrival of the Kamakura Period (c. 1185), the ‘oni’ design became more prevalent.
Onigawara are usually found at the ends of the main roof ridge as well as at the ends of the descending ridges. While their spiritual function is to guard against evil, in the same way as European gargoyles, their practical function is to protect against weathering. They are primarily made of ceramics, although stone or timber varieties can also be found.
Another similar decorative feature in Japanese architecture is shachihoko [see image below], which is a carving covered in gold leaf of a mythical creature comprising the body of a fish and the head of a tiger. These are often found on top of the main ridge of temple roofs and castles, to ward off fires.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
BSRIA calls on government to reach deeper into the causes of pollution.
George Demetri brings a whole new level of technical knowledge to Designing Buildings Wiki.
Quality professionals need to take an active role in driving the completion process forwards.
The innovations needed to move from rhetoric to realisation.
Creating a sense of place, with radically-low running costs and the highest comfort levels.
A conversation between David Mitchell and Caitlin DeSilvey.
A quick guide to brick sizes.
The Union Street development in Southwark was a passion, as well as a business endeavour.
Do our water quality standards demonstrate to the public that their supply is clean?
A third of practitioners do not have easy access to the knowledge they need.
Sustainable approaches to relief, recovery and reconstruction after a natural disaster.
An introduction to a complex issue, the legal status of which remains unclear.