The shachihoko is a great stone fish, an idealized porpoise, with its nose in the ground and its tail in the air. - Lafcadio Hearn
Shachihoko are often seen atop the tiled ridgepoles of wealthy planters' farmhouses, those of shrines and temples, as well as on the roofs of feudal castles. These stylized half-fish, half-tiger creatures are believed to protect buildings from fire. The use of shachihoko in their dual functions of ornamentation and fire prevention increased during the sixteenth century reign of Daimyo Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582). At present the largest copper plated shachihoko in Japan is that atop Matsue Castle in Shimane Prefecture, shown in the photo immediately above.