May 12

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New Red Hats

Yesterday as I was cutting through the grounds of Zojo-ji temple, I noticed that all the Jizo-sans had bright new hats. In all the time I’ve been going there, they’ve never gotten new hats all at once.

At first I thought that some generous donor had supplied them in bulk, but when I took a closer look, I saw that not all of them were the same style, although they all looked handmade

And my favorite one didn’t just have a new hat, he had a whole new outfit. I’ve been visiting this little guy for years, and he always makes me happy/sad because someone faithfully brings him new clothes every season. This time, the parka that kept him warm all winter had been exchanged for shirtsleeves for the warm months ahead. He’s always dressed as a boy, so that makes me think that someone is still mourning a child they remember well after all these years.

I don’t know why they suddenly all got new hats at once. But even the ancient ones whose weathered caps were more faded and mossy every time I visited looked happy this time.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with a pair of strangers. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more