As I walked through the grounds of Zōjōji Temple after watching some obligatory bean-throwing at Setsubun, I couldn’t help but notice that several of the figures of o-Jizo-sama had been gifted with quite the fashionable winter outfits!
But while these displays of Jizo fashion creativity made me smile, they made me kind of sad too. The clothing offerings are given by family members to the spirit of a lost child, so it won’t be cold in the wintertime. Water is left so the child’s spirit won’t be thirsty, often in pink or blue children’s cups. Sometimes stuffed animals are left, for the child’s spirit to play with. Gifts as elaborate as the ones on these Jizo figures make me think that these children are missed very much indeed.
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!