Ojizō-sama - Jizo Bosatsu.
• About this diety: The origins of Jizo stem from India, The deity was originally Hindu, then Buddhist, and eventually bled into a lot of far-eastern traditions in unique ways. – In Japanese Buddhism, Jizo is the Merciful Guardian of the underworld, Protector travellers, children and the weak. He made a vow not to become a full Buddha until all souls have been freed from their suffering in hell. (an improbable task.) Famously, Jizo smuggles the spirits of children who died young across the Sanzu river in his robes.
Across Japan, You will often see little statues of Jizo lined up along roads, near temples, airports, city boundaries & graveyards, often they can be seen wearing red bibs & hats (The colour red is thought to ward off illness & danger.) - These bibs are often left by mourning parents. (Jizos statues are often associated with children who died very young (miscarriages, abortions etc.) - Nearby these statues: you might notice pebbles stacked up into small towers. (offerings to help the spirits of the children with their tasks in their afterlife.) -
A classic tale relating to the statues, called "Kasa-Jizo" goes a little something like this:
Once upon a time, an old man and his wife wanted to celebrate New Years. But they had nothing to eat, not even rice! So they decided to try and sell 5 of his wife’s hand woven straw hats in town.. 👒 On his way, the old man saw 6 jizo statues lined up and absolutely covered in snow! - ☃️☃️☃️☃️☃️☃️ - Kindly, the old man brushed the snow off and continued on into town.
But, Try as he might, it seemed nobody wanted to buy the hats, hours passed and the blizzard kicked up again, without any luck he returned home...
On his way back he noticed that the Jizo statues where getting covered again, “looks cold” he thought.. he decided to give them the hats, but he only had 5! That wouldn’t do: so the man decided to give the last statue his own red scarf 🧣
Arriving home, his wife was slightly disappointed that they couldn’t sell the hats and get a meal, but proud that her husband did something kind with them: The couple went to bed without celebrating or eating anything... 🌙
then In the middle of the night they heard a loud repeated “thud” sound. The man went out to investigate, lo' and behold the statues where there: along with a treasure chest filled with coins, jewels and a feast fit for a king!!
They celebrated happily! Jizo had given them a blessing!
While Jizo is the face of mercy in itself, His 'honji' ('true form/alter ego') is Enma Daiō (Lord of Jigoku (Hell) in disguise. - Two sides to the same coin, one being loving and merciful, and the other dealing out harsh punishments to sinners. (Kind of ironic that parents scold their children with “If you tell a lie, Enma will rip out your tongue!!”) – This contrary nature also makes Jizos statues the centre point of many ghost stories, Tanuki are also often said to use Jizo statues as a disguise (because what better way to hide, than in plain sight?) there are also stories about them being possessed or keeping out demons. (after all, breaking a statue would be an awful sin...)
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky (yo thats me!) - Part of my Yokai & Japanese folklore sticker collection, weather-resistant 4" Glossy sticker. Check my shop & follow @samkalensky for many more!