The word for owl in Japanese, "fukurou," combines a double meaning of fortune and protection from suffering, with the owl used as a symbol to welcome good luck and good fortune. It is no surprise, then, that there are a good number of Japanese cast iron owls out there, some of them made in two parts to serve as incense burners. This one--of which I have found no exact match, and which I think bests any I have seen--could be used that way, as it is hollow, open on the bottom, and with holes for eyes.
I am not sure how this owl appeared in its original state (I believe it dates from the 1960s or so) but its surface now is a wonderful mix of green, black and gold and rust that gives it great character and makes it feel rather ancient. I found him at a great estate sale, perched on the corner of the drafting table of an artist, architect and librarian, amidst an incredible collection of art, books, and objects from around the world.
The owl measures 3" tall x 3 1/2" wide x 2 1/4" deep and is marked "Japan" on bottom.