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.
And just for fun, here are the eleven strangest shrines in Tokyo, with all the inside scoop on the resident gods’ superpowers
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Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!