Photo/IllutrationA statue of styracosaurus is placed at Shoganji temple in Katsushika Ward, Tokyo. (Tetsuro Takehana)

Established in 1600, Shoganji temple in Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward has a long history, but not quite as lengthy as the subject of the statue guarding it--a styracosaurus.

The statue has been placed in front of the centuries-old temple’s main hall, prompting numerous comments on social networking sites about the unconventional juxtaposition of the dinosaur with traditional Japanese culture.

“People might think that this is a weird temple,” said the temple’s chief priest, Ryo Kasuga. “I want to make our temple interesting for everyone and convey the teachings of Buddhism.”

The statue of the dinosaur from the late Cretaceous Period measures about 2 meters in height and 4.5 meters in length. Kasuga was given it when it was featured in an outdoor exhibition 11 years ago.

“We put the dinosaur there instead of a ‘komainu’ (guard lion dog statue). He looks strong and seems to be able to protect us, doesn’t he?” said Kasuga.

The unusual Shinshu Otani-ha sect temple also boasts other eclectic features including a planetarium.