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Photo of Ishiganto


While driving or walking through many of the tiny streets on Okinawa, you may notice a small, carved stone or placard set in walls outside many homes. Placed in discreet locations, these small objects -- called ishiganto -- are believed to ward off evil spirits. They are always positioned in the corner of a forked road or at the head of a T-shaped intersection due to the belief that if a spirit finds a house at an intersection, it is more inclined to enter the house than to make a turn. Because of the many winding roads on Okinawa, ishiganto turn up almost everywhere.
Ishiganto originated in eighth-century China and were brought to Okinawa sometime during the 15th century. Chinese legend has it that there was once a heroic man named Ishiganto who stood up to evil. Many people would often write his name in stone where their houses were located at intersections to ward off evil spirits. This tradition was carried on, and you can now find ishiganto on many streets on Okinawa.

Myth & Folklore (4)
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