Shikoku Pilgrimage, Temples 34-35

Jizō Bosatsu, the Guardian of Children and Travellers

Jizōs and Kannon are the most popular figures in Japan.  Jizōs are everywhere, not only in temples, but also along walkways and streets and, as guardians of the dead, in graveyards.



Three Jizōs along the road on the way to Tanemaji, temple 34, as guardians of the travellers.



I always liked walking in the rain.  Everything was fresh and green.



First sign of spring.



Tanemaji (temple 34). Underneath the wooden tower stands the child-rearing Kannon, where people come to pray for a safe child birth. The ladles with the bottom punched out, hanging on the beams surrounding the statue, speak of a successful childbirth.



Niyodo River



The weather changed to blue sky. Everything looked fresh and vibrant.




Beside Jizōs accompanying the ohenro , poems and sayings were often attached to branches of trees to support the pilgrim on the path.  Unfortunately, my Google translator could not manage to make sense of them most of the time.



Entrance gate to Kiyotakiji, temple 35. Except of a few valley temples, most of the temples are only reachable by stairs.





Statue of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of medicine and healing and main deity of Kiyotakiji.




Ancient, moss covered statues of Sentai Jizōs (1000 Jizōs).  They help the unborn children (waterchildren called mizuko) to cross over the Sanzu river, the river of the Underworld. Without his help, they would be trapped forever in no-man’s land. The cult of Jizōs helps mothers get over the death of a child.  Parents of unborn or aborted children or children who died early, often decorate Jizō statues with bibs, baby clothing and knitted hats. Sometimes toys are given as offerings.



Kiyotakiji is called “mirror-like-clear-waterfall temple”.  Legend has it that Kōbō Daishi fasted there for 17 days.  After finishing the fasting, he struck the altar and a clear spring came out of the rock making a pond. This water was and is used for irrigating the rice fields and farmlands.  It is also used for the production of hand made paper, the famous “Tosa washi” and hand shojigami, screen door paper”.

Jizō always holds the walking staff in the right hand (in order to open the gates of hell) and the wish- fulfilling jewel in the left hand.



Two little children sitting at the foot of Jizō Bosatsu.


Gravestones are a common sight beside the ohenro path. Many are hundreds of years old.



A row of Jizōs along the path



View of Tosa Bay and the Pacific Ocean





Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

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