Niomon: Japan’s Well-Guarded Temple Gates

Most Japanese Buddhist temples have gates at the entrance. In some cases, these gates perform the standard function: indicating the entrance to the temple precinct. In other cases, the gates are larger, more elaborate, and also serve a secondary function: they house the temple’s nio  or kongōrikishi, guardian statues who protect the temple and its treasures. (Gates with nio in them are also often known as “niomon”). The statues stand guard inside enclosed bays at either side of the gate: While the one with its mouth closed is vocalizing “ɦūṃ” (Sanskrit: हूँ):

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Mola mola – the Sun(fish) of the Sea

The ocean sunfish is the largest bony fish in the ocean. Its Latin name, Mola mola, means “millstone” (technically, it means “Millstone millstone”), and derives from the fish’s grey color and round, flat shape.    Like many marine fish, sunfish are curious creatures and well aware of the world beyond the walls of their aquarium tanks. This one actually followed my son along the glass–three times–while we were visiting. He tried to move to let other people have a chance to stand in front of the fish, but the fish wasn’t having it. My son finally stopped moving because the poor thing

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