Found in pairs, the komainu guard the entrance to a Japanese shinto shrine.
This particular fellow was part of a bronzed decoration on a 5-foot tall bell. The actual komainu in this photo was only about two inches long and perhaps just over one-inch tall.
I always loved the komainu as a concept - having been a dog lover since I got my first dog Tin-Tin, a blue roan English Cocker Spaniel back when I was still two-years-old and living in London, England. Since then, we had another English Cocker Spanie named Tippy; four Rottweilers: Apollo, Damien, Misty and Blackjack, and; my current Chocolate Labrador, Buster.
I even purchased a 220-year-old carved ivory netsuke while in Nikko-shi one day and mailed it back to my grandfather as a guardian... to keep him alive until I got back. I told him to keep it on the dresser by the door to his bedroom. Not understanding the significance of it, he gave it to my mother to keep in a knickknack showcase in our living room.
He died a few weeks later in 1992 of a heart attack in the room I sit in now to type this blog out. About 20 years ago to the day. My mother would know the date, but she died of a heart attack a couple years after that, on the other side of this room's wall while I slept here in what was then my bedroom.
A superstitious me would always blame the fact that he had not sent two guardian netsuke to watch over the doorway of his grandfather.
Regardless of me always looking for a way to blame myself for the ills of the world, I hope you enjoy the photo.
Damn... wait until I show you a real nice shot of a couple of 200-year-old netsuke I have!