Foo Dog is a mythical Japanese creature, one known by all generations. If you go to a Japanese shrine, or wander a Japanese market, you are always going to find Foo Dog. Foo Dog is in fact a pair of dog like lions, side by side, always seen at the entrance to shrines. Foo Dog is not really a dog at all, he’s a lion! And he is more than one.
You will also find Foo Dogs in India, Burma, Korea, Myanmar and China. It seems they made the long and arduous journey from India to all across Asia and into Japan. Now they’re in Japan, they are staying there. And they are super popular, not just in shrines but in people’s homes. They make great gifts. Foo Dogs come in sculptures, on artworks, on flags and in paintings or etchings too.
Foo dog couple
If you look at Foo Dogs in pairs, one always has his mouth open and one has his mouth closed. This is symbolic of Buddhism, the sounds the mouths make form a ‘un’ which in Hindi would be ‘om.’ Om, as we know is symbolic of peaceful vibrations, and ‘Un’ In Japanese is symbolic of beginnings and endings.
It is also thought that of the two dogs, or two lions, one is female and one is male. They are yin and yang, opposites. They stand sentry, keeping guard where-ever they are.
Many Japanese have placed Foo Dog sculptures at the entrance of their homes, a symbol of safety. They are often given to new home owners, to wish them luck, peace, prosperity and safety. Foo dogs are always protective, of each other and the structure or the people that they guard.