Carpe Diem’s Shikoku Pilgrimage visits Tatsueji (Temple 19)

Dear friends and followers,

At Carpe Diem Haiku Kai we are on a virtual pilgrimage along the 88 temples on the Japanese Island Shikoku. And with that pilgrimage we are walking the same path as Kobo Daishi (774-838) a Buddhist monk once did on that same Island were he was born. As real O-Henro (pilgrims on the Shikoku-trail) we are visiting the divers temples. Of course we will not visit all the 88 temples, because than I would be almost three months inspired to write posts about  temples. On the same time as we walking the Shikoku-pilgrimage we also walk once in a week the Camino or The Way of St. James or the Road to Santiago De Compostela in Spain. In Spain we are following in the footsteps of Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author which I admire very much and from whom I have read almost every novel he wrote. For the Road to Santiago De Compostela I have read “The Pilgrimage”, a novel written by Paulo Coelho in which he tells us about his pilgrimage to Santiago De Compostela.

In the episode of today’s post we are visiting Tatsueji, the 19th temple, this temple is devoted to Jizo Bosatsu. In Japan Jizō Bosatsu 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, and in particular, children who died before their parents. He has been worshipped as the guardian of the souls of mizuko, the souls of stillborn, miscarried or aborted foetuses, in the ritual of mizuko kuyō (水子供養, lit. offering to water children). 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 Jizō 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.


Sitting Jizo Bosatsu

Jizō 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 Jizō would specially protect them. Sometimes the offerings are put there by parents to thank Jizō for saving their children from a serious illness. Jizō’s features are commonly made more baby-like to resemble the children he protects.
As he is seen as the saviour of souls who have to suffer in the underworld, his statues are common in cemeteries. He is also believed to be one of the protective deities of travellers, the dōsojin, and roadside statues of Jizō are a common sight in Japan. Firefighters are also believed to be under the protection of Jizō.

on the graveyard
next to the grave of a child
Jizo is watching

Jizo is watching
as the souls of children enter

finally children find their peace
on the graveyard

on the graveyard
parents cry their eyes out
passed away child

(c) Chèvrefeuille

A sad post … it’s not as it is meant to be … children dying before their parents. Youngsters leaving their temporarely bodies to enter Nirvana, to enter eternity. I know how this must feel, because my brother died at the age of 35 and (praise the Lord) my parents are still here and alive.

tears shed on this grave
between the colorful leaves
shimmering pebble

shimmering pebble
a silent message of the dead –
the cry of a Crane

(c) Chèvrefeuille

Tatsueji, devoted to Jizo … protector of children helping them to avoid the demons and enter Nirvana.



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