Roadside Jizo Bodhisattva

As you are reading this, I am probably in Kyoto, so this post is a bit late, but a while ago, I spent some time talking about Jizō Bodhisattva, who’s a popular Buddhist figure in Japan as well as East Asian Buddhism. As I was walking close to my wife’s house today, I stumbled upon this roadside altar:

Roadside Jizo Bodhisattva in Japan

This is a very iconic example of Jizo Bodhisattva with the red scarf, the shakujō ringed-staff to protect followers and to ring the Dharma, and in the other hand the wish-fulfilling jewel, which symbolizes Jizo’s efforts to provide for all beings. Note the offerings of water, a common offering in Buddhist altars, and flowers.

Next to the statue was this sign:

Roadside Jizo Bodhisattva in Japan 2

The sign explains at the statue, called jizōson (地蔵尊) or “Honored/Lord Jizo” is one of many stone Buddhist statues in the Nakahara area of Kawasaki City, and can often be seen along intersections, and this particular Jizo statue was relied upon for the year-end market and home-town festivities that existed in the past.

So much history in a simple statue, and it’s kind of encouraging to see that someone is still taking good care of it. :)

On kaka kabi sanmaei sowaka
Namu Amida Butsu

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3 Comments on “Roadside Jizo Bodhisattva”

  1. FredInChina says:

    Nice indeed; I wish Chinese would be as caring as Japanese seem to be for their own artifacts…

  2. Rory says:

    I love these local shrines; wayside shrines really show the pervasiveness of buddhist culture. scholars are always pitting devotion vs. philosophy. Look at the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, which you blogged about; we are responsible for our karma, but bodhisattvas are there to help us along the way…
    not either/or but both.

  3. Doug says:

    Hi guys, sorry for the late replies:

    Fred: how are they cared for in China? There probably are some caring Biddhists there too though. :-)

    Rory: Couldnt agree more on multiple fronts.

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