Many Shintō shrines have two statues of mythical lion-dogs standing at their entrance. One creature’s mouth is always open, while the other’s is closed. They serve the same purpose as images of Buddhist guardian deities: protecting the shrine from the forces of evil. This unusually early pair probably predates the practice of placing the beasts outside the door. With their wood bodies and painted surfaces (now largely worn away), they likely were made for display in a sheltered location.