I have written about Zojoji Temple in the past, but one thing I have not written about is the Jizo Statues.
If you are planning to visit Tokyo Tower, across the street is Zojoji (or Zojo-ji) Temple and to the right of it are Jizo statues, child statues that are clothed and decorated. But they also represent the souls of unborn children. Those who died before birth, as well as those yet to be born.
In modern Japan, Jizo is the guardian of unborn, aborted, miscarried, and stillborn babies. This is not part of earlier Buddhist traditions from mainland Asia but they are modern adaptations unique only to Japan.
Having lost a child, visiting these Jizo statues gave me a calming sense. A feeling of paying respects to the soul of the unborn but also mourning for the one I have lost.
Having visited other temples with Jizo statues, the statues at Zojoji Temple show me how far mourning parents or people have gone to to show their respect and love by dressing these statues.
In a sense, I know many people are saddened when they see these statues. But for Japanese culture, this is a country of people who honor their dead. And I respect that. So much that visiting the jizo statues in Zojoji Temple, looking at the gifts offered and the clothing put on the statue, I know there are other people out there who felt and still feel the pain of losing a child. But perhaps there is something therapeutic about all this. I don’t know…but I do know it was a sense of calm despite there is part of you that still is in mourning, no matter how many years have passed.
I may not be able to describe that sense of feeling all to well, but others who have lost a child who have visited these statues and felt the same calmness can possibly understand.