Monday, August 25, 2008

Temples and Jizo

On a wet day, when I ended up with soaked shoes, but otherwise dry, owing to my large umbrella left by the previous tenants, I explored the temples in Yanaka district. I was particularly interested in seeing the Jomyoin temple reputed to have 84,000 statues of Jizo lined up.I didn't count them but they were endless! This is just one corner.

In modern Japan, Jizo is popularly known as the guardian of unborn, aborted, miscarried, and stillborn babies. These roles were not assigned to Jizo in earlier Buddhist traditions from mainland Asia; they are instead modern adaptations unique to Japan. At the same time, Jizo serves his customary and traditional roles as patron saint of expectant mothers, children, firemen, travelers, pilgrims, and the protector of all beings caught in the six realms of reincarnation. That's us!

Jizo is the statue usually dressed in a red bib and hat. Clothing to keep warm on the journey. At one shrine there was an image with a collection of toy cars at the base. A touching memory of a small boy.

In this district which is old, with many residents living there all their lives, there are many original traditional shops selling sembe (rice crackers) tofu, tatami mats, and
tools.
There is a huge Cemetery as well and many of the shrines have tombs, with wooden buckets there to be used to organise flowers for the graves.
One of my favourite garden features as well as the water bowls is the "chain drain" from the guttering, into a lovely metal receptacle. Today doing its work!

Walking along the area it is always a good idea to look up as what is as street level may be ordinary , but the building above may be fascinating.
This one covered in corrugated iron and the lovely doors, seemed to be some kind of store, but no information that I could see helped me work it out. But I still love the look of it.

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