In Japanese culture

Agyo and Ungyo

This next post is inspired by the ignorance of mine in the following video clip. 


There are a lot of things I take notice of that I don't fully understand. Or understand at all for that matter. I'm living in a country with long, deep cultural heritage, but most of the time I don't know the significance of what I am seeing around me. Many of the cultural attributes I can't even name, so I don't know how to research them. However, I came across information about the fearsome and awesome figures I took notice of this the clip. 

Together these two figures are called a Nio. They are two fearsome and aggressive figures that stand on either side of the opening of a Buddhist temple and act as protectors of Buddha. They are both two different deceptions of the Buddhist deity known as Shukongoshin.

The figure called Agyo is the one with his mouth open, which is said to represent birth. The showing of his teeth is a violent expression. To further his terror he is shown with a clenched fist, holding a weapon, or both. 

Ungyo is the figure with the closed mouth that symbolizes death. He bears an open palm. 



In Japanese Buddhist temple these two figures are typically housed inside a Niomon, or a special gate that visitors must walk through to enter. They are said to ward off evil spirits and keep the temple grounds free of demons and thieves. 

For a person like me who enjoys being creeped out once in a while, these figures are scary yet fun. Seeing their sheer height, bulging muscles, and glimmering eyes leaves the nerves slightly on edge, with an unwavering impression of beauty in their power. 

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