- 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
The London Build Expo is hosting a Diversity in Construction panel and networking session on October 24.
Analysis can help develop a specification, but must not lead to inappropriate specifications being accepted.
Dos and don'ts for creating a smart home.
New ICE publication recommends pay-as-you-go tax to fund roads and other financing options.
BSRIA launches a White Paper on wearable technology and wellbeing in buildings.
Have the pressures of the market shredded the core values of professionalism?
Lead times are a measure of the amount of time that elapses between initiating and completing a construction process.
Government releases first tranche of funding for removal of unsafe high-rise cladding.
How to ensure UK transport infrastructure copes with severe winter weather.