This is the age of traveling! Gone are the days when people would never leave their home countries, gone are the times of expensive flights and pricey hotels, now is the time to explore the world, to soak up different cultures, to embrace the unknown, and to be inquisitive and curious! If you have been bitten by the travel bug, Kyoto is surely on your travel bucket list! This amazing city in Japan, located in the Kansai region, is famous for being the former Imperial capital of this country for over a thousand years, and it is the capital of the Kyoto Prefecture. Apart from that, Kyoto is a vibrant city with a lot to offer, so traveling there will definitely be an adventure of a lifetime, so much so, that you will decide to name your dog after one of Kyoto’s landmarks, or notable residents!
Kyoto Dog Names in Pop Culture
What do you get when you cross a lion and a dog? A log? A dion? Well no, you get a Komainu, otherwise known as lion dog! What are Komainu and what do they have to do with Kyoto, dogs, lions, and why should you care? As every well-traveled person, you want to know all there is to know about the culture and the heritage of the place you are visiting, so when you drop by Kyoto, you will surely run into one of these dog statues.
Komainu are the statues of lion-dog hybrids, which often guard the entrances of the Shinto shrines in Japan. There are two types of these pawsome lion doggos, Sando Komainu, produced during the Edo period, and Jinnai Komainu, which are much older, but also breathtakingly beautiful. Komainu were created to ward off the evil spirits. Usually, they are placed on the entrances of the shrines in pairs, and usually, one Komainu has its mouth open, while the other one’s mouth is closed. According to the symbolic meaning of this, the open mouth is supposed to symbolize the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet “a,” and the closed mouth dog is supposed to pronounce the last letter “um.” The open and closed mouths of Komainu represent the beginning and end of everything, and together they form the sound Aum, which is a sacred syllable in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
The Komainu remind of the traditional Chinese guardian dogs that originate from the Tang dynasty. In Japan, during the Nara period, Komainu were mostly placed indoors, but during the Heian period, they were placed outside and were made from wooden and metal parts. Also, in the Heian period, the lion dogs got their names as well. The one with its mouth open was named shishi, which means lion, and the one with its mouth closed was called komainu, or Goguryeo dog. However, over time, the animals were made to be identical and finally got the same name – komainu.
In the Inari shrine in Kyoto, the Komainu resemble a fox. However, they are still considered to be dogs. Sometimes they are painted white. In Otoyo shrine in Kyoto, Komainu are represented as mice! Even though many doggos all over the world may be mad, there is a good reason behind it. According to the legend, a mouse appeared in front of Okuninyushi, the god of marriage, and told him that he could escape from the snake den through the hole in the ground. Either way, mice may guard that one temple, but doggos are responsible for all the other ones, so it is still a win for the canines!
Kyoto Dog Name Considerations
Kyoto, the amazing and vibrant city in Japan, has a lot to offer. Whether you are looking for the history or something fun to do, you can find it all in Kyoto, and one more thing you can find is the abundance of amazing names you can give to your lovely dog to remind you of your time in this amazing city. First of all, you can choose to give your dog the name of one of Kyoto’s neighborhoods or shrines. Kiyomizu-dera, after the Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto, Gion, a geisha district in Kyoto, or even Arashiyama, district on the western outskirts of Kyoto are all fantastic choices and names that will stick in the minds of your fellow dog-walkers in your local park. You can tell them a story about your travels and inspire them to learn more about Japanese culture and history.
Another option is to give your doggo a name of a famous person coming from Kyoto. In this case, names such as Miwa Takada, a Japanese film, stage, and TV actress from Kyoto, Satsuki Yukino, a Japanese voice actress from Kyoto, or Takahiro Tamura, a Japanese actor who appeared in over 100 films, from Kyoto City are all amazing choices.