It is derived from the Buddhist guardian deity Vaiśravaṇa (Bishamonten in Japanese). He is a depicted as warrior carrying a hōtō (treasure tower). Thus, the pattern is taken from the deity's armor which has scales.
I am familiar with this pattern because it it quite popular in Sashiko - YES, another new word. This is decorative stitching from Japan, but it is not really embroidery. And, yes, in case you were wondering, I occasionally do sashiko another of my many crafts. This is how I know of the pattern.
Hey, by now, you should know that reading my blog posts means you will learn new things, that is what being adventurous is all about!
Now, that we we have another lesson let me explain why I am writing about this.
I have chosen this pattern to decorate my small tool canister. The tool holder (see first image) I made was really a practice piece.