Tuesday, 13 January 2015

I am Jizo. / 私は地蔵です。

This little guy lives just outside the front door in the garden. (He is as well photographed as Momo and Geiger and the indigo vat.) We actually didn't see much of him most of the year as fallen indigo seeds took and he was hidden until harvest and the cold winter winds found him shivering. Ogata san noticed he was looking tad shabby. (and not that chic.) She appeared a few days before New Years and stripped him of his 2014 clothes. He was left shivering for a week or so while she made him some new garments. 

 Knit hats are 2014. He has a stitched hat this year. Thank you Ogata san.

not my script...I cut and pasted.... 

O-Jizo-Sama as he is often respectfully called, is one of the most 
venerated Bosatsu in all of Japan. He is usually depicted as a monk,
wearing robes with a shaven head. He often holds a staff called a
shakujo. This is used to both scare away living creatures so he doesn’t
hurt them accidentally, and to awaken us from our dream-like world of
illusion. On many images and statues, he holds a wish-granting jewel
that he shares with Kanzeon Bosatsu and Vishnu in the Hindu tradition.

You can find O-Jizo-san in cemeteries,
gardens, on road-sides and of course temples all over Japan. He is the
protector of travelers, children and all beings trapped in hell.

The story goes, that the souls of children who die before their
parents, are not capable of crossing the fabled Sanzu River (similar to
the Styx river in Greek mythology) in the afterlife. This is because
they have not had the time to accumulate enough good deeds (karma) and
they have made their parents suffer. It is believed that Jizo saves
these souls from the punishment of having to pile stones eternally on
the bank of the river. O-Jizo-sama, is thus widely recognize as the
saint patron of dead children, especially still-born and aborted

You often encounter Ojizo-sama in graveyards and it is not unusual
to see the idol adorned with a red bib and a red baby hat. The reason
for this, is parents put it there to either thank him for saving a
child from illness or to ask him to protect a child in the after-life.
Thus each time you see a Jizo statue, adorned with these clothes, you
witness the pain of a parent. Sometimes, you’ll see small piles of
stones next to the statues and those are connected to building stupas
for the granting of merit. Doing so, the parents hope to earn enough
merit for their child so that it can cross the river as fast as
possible and thus, end suffering.

The hikers walking up the village often leave cans and bottles of sake or tea and the occasional soft drink for the White Horse Kannon Bosatsu at the bottom of  the driveway. The Buddha also has a healthy sense of humour. (You can almost hear the timeless giggles when there is can of Coke sitting in front of him.)


  1. geeezzz i have to go back again. how could i miss them?

  2. yep, keep those stone ones content, and smiling. is this similarly why sometimes when i carve soapstone nothing comes out, othertimes it might be a bird or a bear or a hippo?

  3. This is so interesting. It's all very nice to see something like this ,but to learn the story behind it is even better. Thank you, Bryan.
    Claudia Fisk

  4. Jizo-sama is looking very festive in his new clothes. so nice that Ogata-san is looking after him and he is watching out for the indigo. I have a lovely picture of him in the spring.