- 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
Connecting building design from inception to completion to operations.
Gregor Harvie predicts interoperability will be construction’s Uber moment.
Expert commentary and insight.
Guidance offered for stained glass window maintenance.
Define need before determining viability.
Framework examines social value of projects.
RfX or Request for [fill in the blank].
Organisation establishes Equality, Diversity, Inclusion taskforce.
Government announces plans for new building projects.
Outsourcing method to procure and manage supplies.
Joint support of Local Authority Historic Environment and Conservation Services.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is an outstanding achievement.
Buildings of the interwar years. Book review.
Ireland’s climate change sectoral adaptation plan.
Rethinking the acoustics of the office.