One of the last rays of sunlight was cast across its stony eyes. Eyes that gazed without pupils, the smooth surface warm under the rich and fading day. One could not tell where he was looking, but I suppose that was the point, he was looking everywhere. One of a set and half of a pair, this ancient temple guard stood with his brother at the gates of Myōshin-ji Temple Grounds in Kyoto, Japan. His mouth open, the other’s mouth closed. Always it is this way. In the elegant simplicity the opened and closed mouths have come to symbolize much: life and death, the start and end of a grapheme (that smallest spoken syllable in a language), the Alpha and the Omega (Christianity), and the start and the end. Passing between the guardians, and entering the temple gates is an act of cleansing, self-purification, blocking negative spirits from following you inside, or “leave your baggage at the door” to use contemporary terminology.