Just because you’re a bodhisattva and charged with the un-small task of looking after children and travelers doesn’t mean you never get to kick off your sandals and party. This O-Jizo-sama at Zōjōji temple is ready to blow out the candles on his birthday cake (although he might need help, considering there would be over 1500 of them).
O-Jizo-sama is my favorite of the many images of Buddhism, but even though his statues are always kind and often cute, they make me a little sad too. There are hundreds and hundreds of them at Zōjōji dedicated to the souls of children who died before their parents. Families keep their traditional red bibs and caps bright, and regularly leave offerings; sometimes pinwheels, sometimes flowers, sometimes a warm winter coat.
Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery series, published by Penguin/Intermix.