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In Japan, the gate itself is often called the Niō-mon 仁王門 (literally Niō Gate).
At Shintō shrines, however, the Niō guardians are replaced with a pair of koma-inu (shishi lion-dogs) or with two foxes.
The most famous Niō in Japan can be found at the entrance gate of Tōdaiji Temple .
The Niō were introduced to Japan in the 7th or 8th century.
These mythical and magical shrine guardians are commonly (but not always) depicted with similar iconography -- one mouth open, one closed.
Èrwáng 二王Erh-wang, Mouth open Rénwáng 仁王, Renwang, Jenwang, Mouth shut Generals Ha & Heng 哈哼二将Ha = 哈, Heng = 哼Says China History Forum: “Ha and Heng originated in the Ming-dynasty (1368-1644) novel Fengsheng Yanyi 封神演义 (Investitures of the Gods).
Both are fierce and brave, and became folk figures due in part to this novel.” The Niō’s fierce and threatening appearance is said to ward off evil spirits and keep the temple grounds free of demons and thieves.Or they may be a type of Raksa (man-eating demons of Indian folklore).In Esoteric Buddhism, they represent two aspects of Vairocana (Dainichi Nyorai).This "open-closed" iconography symbolizes duality (e.g., life and death, beginning and end, alpha and omega). These two marshals are unique to China, but their iconography can be traced back to two Buddhist deities known in Chinese as Rénwáng 仁王 (J = Niō, K = Inwang), translated as "benevolent kings" or "humane kings." These two kings are the Hindu vajra-dhara (vajra holders, vajra warriors).They were incorporated into Buddhism to protect and preserve the Buddhist teachings.