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Shachi in the Garden

Shachi statue on the east side of the garden at the japanese friendship garden of phoenix
Shachi on the East side of the Garden

As you stroll through our Japanese Friendship Garden and venture to the east side, you might encounter a striking statue of a ferocious fish! This is the shachi (鯱), a legendary sea creature from Japanese folklore with the head of a dragon and the body of a carp. Gifted to us by our sister city of Himeji, these shachi, including their partner near the front entrance, symbolize our sister city bond and serve as mythical protectors against fire. 

Shachi statue's mouth on the east side of the garden at the japanese friendship garden of phoenix
Inside the jaws of the ferocious shachi!

Shachi History

In ancient Japan, wooden architecture was highly susceptible to fire. Shachi, believed to have the power to store water and control rain, were often placed in pairs (male and female) at each end of a roof ridge as guardians of castles. Although the exact method is unknown, legends suggest that their legendary powers and specially designed spouting holes could release water to extinguish fires. 


The most famous shachi today is the kin shachi (golden fish) at Nagoya Castle, adorned with 18-karat gold to reflect the wealth of the feudal lord of that era. 

In modern times, with advancements in fire protection, shachi have mostly retained their role as ornamental roof decorations. This is evident in Himeji Castle, our sister city's greatest treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the last remaining wooden castle in Japan, showcasing shachi on its rooftops to protect it. 


shachi on himeji castle rooftop
Shachi on Himeji Castle rooftop

Our Shachi

The shachi in our garden is crafted in the same style and construction as those on the roof of Himeji Castle. This clay-fired, Himeji-style shachi was presented to our garden by our sister city, complementing the shachi near our front gate. 


In Himeji, shachi can be seen on castle rooftops and throughout the city as decorative elements. The shachi has been embraced as a symbol of the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, representing our cultural connection and shared heritage with Himeji. 


Next time you visit the garden, be sure to thank the shachi for bringing rain to our oasis and protecting us against fires and heat in the desert! 

Shachi near the front gate of the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix
Shachi near the front gate of the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

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