I thought I’d write a little note about Jizu statues, which are featured in one of the Yamaguchi Kannon photos. I have visited many temples in Japan, and I was always puzzled by Jizu statues at temples. Some temples have hundreds of Jizu statues, and one temple must have had over a thousand. Why so many?
As it turns out, they are what I call “abortion statues”. When a couple in Japan has an abortion, they often feel a certain amount of guilt. They buy a Jizu statue, which gives the ‘unborn child’ an object to ‘ensoul’, helping the couple feel better. Many statues even have a small article of clothing knitted by the couple.
The next time we visit a temple with Jizu statues, we can reflect on the unhappiness each Jizu statue symbolizes.