Seen in Nikko, west of the Annex Turtle Inn Hotori-An, where we had stayed the previous night.
In Japan, JizÅ, or OjizÅ-sama as he is respectfully known, is one of the most loved of all Japanese divinities. His statues are a common sight, especially by roadsides and in graveyards. Traditionally, he is seen as the guardian of children, particularly children who died before their parents. Since the 1980s, the tendency developed in which he was worshipped as the guardian of the souls of mizuko, the souls of stillborn, miscarried or aborted fetuses. In Japanese mythology, it is said that the souls of children who die before their parents are unable to cross the mythical Sanzu River on their way to the afterlife because they have not had the chance to accumulate enough good deeds and because they have made the parents suffer. It is believed that JizÅ saves these souls from having to pile stones eternally on the bank of the river as penance, by hiding them from demons in his robe, and letting them hear mantras.
JizÅ statues are sometimes accompanied by a little pile of stones and pebbles, put there by people in the hope that it would shorten the time children have to suffer in the underworld (the act is derived from the tradition of building stupas as an act of merit-making). The statues can sometimes be seen wearing tiny children’s clothing or bibs, or with toys, put there by grieving parents to help their lost ones and hoping that JizÅ would specially protect them. Sometimes the offerings are put there by parents to thank JizÅ for saving their children from a serious illness. JizÅ’s features are also commonly made more babylike in order to resemble the children he protects.
This Jizo must have been part Wicked Witch, or made of sugar, as it seems to have melted…