In Spring It Is the Dawn has a monthly challenge, Hello Japan. This month's challenge is to choose five favorites about Japan. The topic is wide open and allows the participants to be as broad or narrow as long as it's about Japan.
The Bodhisattva, Jizo, protector of women, children and travelers, is one of my favorites as he is portrayed in Japan. He is associated with pregnant women, children, children who have died and is seen as a friendly figure. He is found in many places in Japan and wears a red bib and hat. Often he carries a staff and six rings. I became aware of him a few years ago and now take photos whenever I see him. Below are five places in Japan I've photographed Jizo figures.
1. A Jizo shire in Tokyo's Tennoji temple in the Yanaka Cemetary area.
Notice the origami thousand cranes which grant the folder a long life or recovery from illness.
2. Jizo seen in Kyoto along the bank of the Kamo River. The facial features looked to be drawn with a magic marker.
3. A shrine in Tokyo's Kita-Shinjuku. The older couple who maintained this shrine said it had been in this area of Tokyo for 400 years. It's near where I stay and every morning there are toys and other offerings placed in the shrine. It's the only Jizo shrine I've seen where the figures wore patterned red fabric rather than solid red.
4. Jizo wearing a crocheted hat and bib on the walkway to the Hokokuji Temple in Kamakura.
The temple is known for it wonderful bamboo gardens.
5, Two Jizo figures at the Tenri-in Temple in Matsushima. One on the roof and one with a red hat and bib to the right of the shrine.
Yet another Jizo figure at the Tenri-in Temple.