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Old 09-05-2011, 09:48 AM
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Default Japan Tour: Jizo Shrine Kyoto

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Small shrines such as the one pictured at right are found in every neighborhood in Kyoto.

They are known as Jizo, and are entrusted to protect the children of the area.

According to Buddhist expert Mark Schumacher, "Jizo works to ease the suffering and shorten the sentence of those serving time in hell, to deliver the faithful into Amida's western paradise (where inhabitants are no longer trapped in the six states of desire and karmic rebirth), and to answer the prayers of the living for health, success, children, and all manner of petitions."

These shrines are small and maintained by the neighborhood, almost invariably by a local woman. She cleans the shrine, changes the flowers, lights the incense, and makes sure the offering - usually simple foodstuffs - are fresh. These are done every day.

The stone Jizo is the centerpiece of the shrine, and sits within.

It is brought out once a year, on the Jizo obon festival.

It is surprisingly heavy, and two men carry it to the home that is hosting the festival that year.

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