Vintage Onigawara-style Japanese ceramic roof tile. Tiles such as these are sometimes called “ogre-face roof tiles” and typically occupy a prominent location atop the traditional Japanese home. Ogre-face tiles are so-named due to the fact that many such tiles are decorated with the fierce countenance of a protective ogre or demon (not all monsters are bad in Japan) who watches over the family home and hearth from his high perch. The name onigawara may actually be applied to any decorative roof tile whether or not it has a demon face, and Japanese architectural tradition includes a wide and diverse variety of such tiles featuring everything from supernatural guardians, auspicious plant life or even pictorial representations of water and animals associated with water. The lattermost type of onigawara were in the past considered a particularly good defense against the dangers of fire. Richly decorated end caps and especially the incredible “ogre caps” are certainly one of the most unique and exciting elements of traditional Japanese architecture.
About the listed item
The onigawara roof end cap offered here has seen previous service atop a building somewhere in Japan. The end cap is without any large cracks though it does have a few small cracks which are likely original to the firing process. These small cracks do not seem to affect the structural integrity of the piece which is quite sound. The tile also has some small chips as well as marks and scratches over the entire surface and is a bit dirty and worn from years of outdoor exposure. There are two larger chips visible at the very front and center of the piece though these do not seem to detract and may in fact enhance the character of the piece. There is also some dry adhesive stuck to the back of the tile which was used to secure the tile in place and provide weatherproofing when installed. Manufactured via the toukigawara method, the tile features a hollow interior. This well-made Japanese onigawara roof tile is at least 30 years old and was acquired in the historic city of Shizuoka, Japan near the foot of Mt. Fuji.
Height (from base to highest point): 10.7 inches (27.5 centimeters)
Width (across widest point at front): 10.9 inches (28.0 centimeters)
Depth (from back to furthest point forward): 6.2 inches (16.0 centimeters)
Weight: 13.1 pounds (6.0 kilograms)
More about Japanese roof tiles
Tiled roofs (hongawarabuki) are a distinguishing feature of most Japanese homes, as well as Buddhist temples, Shinto (native religion of Japan) shrines and many other types of old buildings. Kawara is the word the Japanese use to describe roof tiles in general, though there are in fact many styles and types of tiles with regional variations, and a large and specialized vocabulary is used to describe these. Japanese roof tiles are typically very well made and often outlive their intended function protecting structures from the elements. As a result, old roof tiles can sometimes be spotted in Japan being reused for unique and interesting purposes. Old roof tiles are sometimes used to reinforce earthen retaining walls, or stacked one next to another to make garden borders. Roof tiles are also buried vertically along dirt walkways with just the tips exposed a fraction of an inch above the surface to create artistic patterns and to act as paving surfaces. Decorative end caps called onigawara (ogre tiles) look especially nice as accent pieces within the home or on patios and especially when positioned amidst garden foliage.
item code: R1S7-0004194
ship code: D & B or appropriate