Events:


fireworks displays (Japanese version only):

https://hanabi.walkerplus.com/

https://sp.jorudan.co.jp/hanabi/


seasonal flowers:




Saturday, August 11, 2018

Japan's Pompeii - Kanbara



Kanbara Kannon-do Hall
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)
Kanbara Kannon-do Hall (鎌原観音堂,a temple dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy Kannon) stands in Kanbara area, Tsumagoi village, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma Prefecuture.


Kanbara Kannon-do Hall
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)

Kanbara Kannon-do Hall
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)

The hall has 15 stone steps now. Legend has it that Kannon-do had 150 stone steps. In 1979 the grounds of the hall was examined. The hall had once had 50 stone steps. Debris buried its 35 steps(6.5 meters in height .)

And two female skeletal remains(partially mummified) were found.

Kanbara Kannon-do Hall
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)

Mount Asama straddling the border between Gunma and Nagano Prefectures has often erupted. In 1783 the eruption reached its peak about 10:30 a.m. on August 5(the 8th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar) after the volcano had repeated small eruptions. The eruption issued a large amount of pyroclastic fall, lava flow, pyroclastic flow, debris avalanche and lahar. (mudflow). Experts infer that debris avalanche battered Kanbara village. It crushed 957 homes and left 1,443 people dead in an area surrounding the mount.

The two remains were found at foot of the hall's steps. They are considered as parent and child or younger and much older siblings because two restored faces are quite similar. Younger woman was about to give older one a piggyback ride up the steps. They were so close to survival, but just couldn't survive the debris avalanche.

There are also other opinions. Some people say that there was no time to evacuate and that people happened to be at the hall to pray for the end of volcanic eruption. Another says that there was 10 minutes to evacuate because the speed of debris avalanche was estimated to be about 30 or 40 kirometers per hour.

The avalanche buried Kanbara village(current Kanbara area in Tsumagoi village) and killed 466(or 477*) of 597  villagers. (*Some experts infer that 11 villagers of the survivors died from eruption-related injuries and  burns long after the eruption. The text on a stone monument to commemorate the 32nd death anniversary of the victims says the number of the victims was 477.)

The survivors were 80 villagers who stayed outside the village and 51 who were able to reach the hall, a neighboring village and a nearby mountain,  happened to survive in a hut, a field, a survivor's house. After the disaster 93 Kanbara's survivors remained in the village. Five neighboring village headmen rode to rescue of 93 survivors. In the end 55 survivors have remained in Kanbara ever since. Most survivors in other devastated areas abandoned their villages.

The Kanbara's survivors re-established their village in the same place. Widowers got married widows.  Parents of deceased children adopted orphans.

I have heard a man talking on a TV program before. As I got a strong impression from his talk, it is remembered to this day.
A presumed descendant of the survivors said, "A man asked the survivors, 'Why didn't you abandon your village?' They answered, 'Because we couldn't bear to leave our family members behind. They are buried under here.'"
Though it's uncertain as to whether or not he talked about the 1783 Asama Eruption, there is no other instance like the reconstruction of Kanbara village.

Kanbara was a pastoral village and yet a strategic spot on the road.  Inns, wholesale stores, tea shops lined both sides of the street. The Edo Shogunate disbursed 1,050 ryo(approx. 136 million yen at present value) to Kanbara village and 4,766 ryo(approx. 620 million yen at present value) to 19 seriously damaged villages for post-eruption recovery. Actually, the Shogunate ordered Kumamoto Domain to pay 100,000 Ryo as reconstruction aid. The domain could not afford to  pay the huge sums of money, so the domain's residents paid a lot of money. After the Kumamoto earthquakes occurred in 2016, Kanbara residents raised money for victims of the quakes. They thank Kumamoto citizens to this day.

Stone monument to commemorate the 32nd death anniversary of the victims
(33回忌供養碑)
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)
The surviviors held a Buddhist memorial service on the 32nd death anniversary of the victims in 1815.  At the same time they built a monument with carved names of the victims by receiving a helping hand from neighboring villages.

Stone block bearing the name of Enmei-ji Temple
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)
Enmei-ji Temple(延命寺) was buried by the eruption. The temple's chief priest was engulfed in the eruption on his way to the Mount Asama on that day. He headed for the volcano to pray to end its eruption. The location and existence of the temple was unknown. Ironically, the stone block was found at the riverside of the Agatsuma River due to flooding of the river in 1910.

The remains of its constructions was confirmed buried 6.5 meters under the ground, 200 meters from Kannon-do in 1980. Artifacts including Buddhist ritual objects had been discovered through six examinations since 1985. 

The remains of folk houses at Tooka-no-kubo(十日ノ窪) were examined in 1979 and 1980. About 2,000 housewares were found. They included some articles such as a lacquer comb, a tortoise shell hairpin, a mercury mirror, a tea bowl and a kettle for the tea ceremony. Their owners were commoners.

Monument to the Asama Eruption, gravestones,  and Okomori-do
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)
Okomori-do is a building with hanging towels located behind stonegraves. Kannon-do became known to the whole country after examination in 1979. The hall had an increasing number of tourists. In 1979, 7th and 8th generation descendants of the survivors and their relatives, newcomers after the eruption, launched Kanbara Kannon-do Hoshikai(service club.) They take turns to receive visitors. They offer prayers to the victims, hold memorial service for the victims on August 5 every year.

As of 2001, about 80 percent of Kanbara village residents were the descendants of the survivors. So they had a tremendous amount of respect for Kannon(Goddess of Mercy) enshrined in Kannon-do who saved dozens of survivors. Villagers who helped the excavation works had strong sense of prayer. They saw the lifestyles of their ancestors and felt the pains of the victims. Kannon-do is also a meeting place  for residents.

A memorial service called mawari-nenbutsu takes place twice a month. Homes used to take turns providing a venue for it. It is held at a local multipurpose center now. Not all homes participate in it. In the venue, three hanging scrolls with the names of the 477 victims, the Thirteen Buddhas, Kobo-Daishi(Kukai) are displayed. Participants chant some nenbutsu(prayers to Amitabha Buddha) and wasan. Wasan are Buddhist hymns in Japanese. Wasan chanted here were made in the Meiji Period. They represent the tragedy of the 1723 Asama eruption and a prayer to Amitabha Buddha.



Tsumagoi Kyodo Shiryokan(嬬恋郷土資料館, Tsumagoi Folk Museum)

The museum shows artifacts, illustration of damage, an erupting volcano diorama,  restored faces of  two women who were found at foot of Kannon-do's steps. Visitors can see views of Mount Asama and current Kanbara area  in the observation room.

Tsumagoi Kyodo Shiryokan(Japanese version only):
https://www.vill.tsumagoi.gunma.jp/shiryo_kan/index.html

Tsumagoi Village is Japan's top producer of cabbages and is a popular tourist destination.

Tsumagoi Cabbage&Asamayama

The village has several camp sites, spa and ski resorts.

Palcall Tsumagoi Ski Resort
Palcall Tsumagoi Ski Resort in Tsumagoi, GunmaJapan.
From Wikimedia Commons

Oni Oshidashi lava(鬼押出し)

The Lava covered about 6.8 square kilometers of the surrounding forest, forming a flow field 800-2,000m wide and extending 5.5 km to the north. The analyses of the welded pyroclastic rocks show that the Oni Oshidashi lava is considered to be clastogenic lava. Pyroclastic material ejected from a volcanic vent piled up around the vent in the shape of a cone with a central crater. A high flux of pyroclast accumulation around the vent led to clastogenic lava flows from the northern lowest rim of the summit crater. "Oni Oshidashi" means "lava that an ogre pushed outward from a volcano."

鬼押出し
Oni Oshidashi
鬼押出し (credit: duke.yuin/ flickr)





IMG_0715.JPG
Oni Oshidashi
IMG_0715.JPG (credit: bizmac/flickr)


onioshidashi_03
onioshidashi_03 (credit: yamakidoms/flickr)




Mt.Asama 06
Mt.Asama as seen from Onioshidashi, Tsumagoi Vill., Gunma Pref., Japan
credit:Σ64
from Wikimedia Commons

Visitors can see the Oni Oshidashi lava at the Onioshidashi-en(鬼押出し園, Onioshidashi Park) or the Naganohara town municipal Asama-en(浅間園, Asama Park).

The Onioshidashi Park is located near Karuizawa. The Kokudo Corporation developed Onioshidashi  as a tourist site. Now Prince Hotels manages the park.

In the park Kannon-do(a branch temple of Kan'ei-ji Temple in Ueno, Tokyo) was built to mourn for the victims in 1958. The survivors of the volcanic eruption sought rescue from the Kan'ei-ji Temple. The chief priest of the Zenko-ji Temple in Nagano Prefecture(the former chief priest of the Kan'ei-ji) came to the disaster area, provided meals to the survivors, and chanted a prayer for the victims for 30 days. In the following year, 1784, the priest held a memorial service for the victims at the Zenko-ji Temple.

浅間山観音堂
Asamayama Kannon-do
浅間山観音堂 (credit:duke.yuin/ flickr)

Mt.Asama 07
Asamayama Kannon-do
from Wikimedia Commons

IMG_0752.JPG
IMG_0752.JPG  (credit: bizmac/flickr)

IMG_5997
Asamayama Kannon-do
IMG_5997 (credit:markehr /flickr)
鬼押し出し
Asamayama Kannon-do
鬼押し出し (credit: Nao Iizuka/ flickr)

The Naganohara town municipal Asama-en has the Asama Volcano Museum, a volcano walk, a trekking course(need for guide, since Mt. Asama is a volcano. Small eruptions sometimes occur at Mt. Asama. Advance reservations are required), a trailer site, a cycleway in the forest, and a motorcycle museum(almost Japanese classic bikes.)

ASAMA Volcano Museum 2017-04
Asama Volcano Museum
credit:京葉快速26
from Wikimedia Commons

the Onioshidashi-en (Japanese version only):
Naganohara town municipal Asama-en(Japanese version only):


The Great Tenmei famine is considered to have set in 1782, and  lasted until 1788. The 1723 Asama eruption contributed to the famine. Volcanic ash was sent down around Japan, resulting in cold weather that led to catastrophic crop failure. Mount Iwaki in Aomori Prefecture also erupted in 1783.

In Iceland, the Laki volcanic fissure erupted over an eight-month period between June 1783 and February 1784.  The Laki eruption and its aftermath affected the whole of the northern hemisphere.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Hotarugari( firefly-watching events)

Hotaru-gari(蛍狩り) literally means "hunting for fireflies", but actually means going out to see flashing fireflies. The Japan Meteorological Agency announced the end of the rainy season in the Kanto region on 29 June. The season ended 7 days  earlier than last year and 22 days  earlier than average. A seasonal rain front activated by Typhoon Prapiroon(Typhoon No.7) has brought torrential downpours in many parts of Japan. The threat of heavy rainfall and flooding will persist until Sunday.

Firefly-watching is nearing an end while I am dillydallying. Most of firefly-watching events were done, but some of them will last until mid-July.

蛍 / Firefly
蛍 / Firefly (credit:St.Také/flickr)


Kaneda River in Nan-bu cho, Tottori Prefecture
fireflies 05
fireflies 05 (credit: mstkeast/flickr)

audience waiting to flashing fireflies at Hotaru no Sato in Fukutsu City, Fukuoka Prefecture
IMGP1346
IMGP1346 (credit: yuki5287/flickr)
Kawaura River, Minokamo City, Gifu Prefecture
mid- to late June
Numerous fireflies glowed above the stream. 川浦川の蛍(ホタル)
Numerous fireflies glowed above the stream. 川浦川の蛍(ホタル) (credit: T.Kiya/flickr)



In  early June, Hotaru-hojo-sai (Releasing Fireflies Ritual) is held at Yanagihara Shinchi Pond in Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kanagawa Prefecture. Visitors can see fireflies flashing during a week from the ritual.
鶴岡八幡宮ほたるまつり - 柳原神池/鎌倉散歩
鶴岡八幡宮ほたるまつり - 柳原神池/鎌倉散歩  (credit: Tranpan23/flickr)

Tokyo Hotaru Festival imagined fireflies by Sumida river through LED lights. This event is not held any more.
IMG_9810
IMG_9810 (credit: Hetarllen Mumriken/flickr)



The word "hotaru (fireflies) " appeared in Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan) finished in 720, but  it is unclear what the word meaned.


In the Heian period(794-1185), fireflies were referred in literature such as the collection of poems "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves", Sei Shonagon's "The Pillow Book", Murasaki Shikibu's "The Tale of Genji."

Sei Shonagon praised that lots of fireflies flitted to and fro on a moonless summer night. She also loved that a couple of fireflies hovered and blinked a dim light.

Hotaru (The Fireflies) is the 25th chapter  of "The Tale of Genji." When Genji's half-brother Hotaru Hyobukyo no Miya(蛍兵部卿宮) visits Tamakazura(玉鬘, Genji's adopted daughter), Genji releases fireflies behind a screen to light up her with fireflies, showing her beauty to him.

Title: Hotaru (The Fireflies), the 25th chapter of "The Tale of Genji"
Artist: Toyokuni(Utagawa Toyokuni Ⅲ/Kunisada I, 1786-1864)
Publication Date: 1852
Book title: Genji 54-jo(源氏五十四帖, 54 chapters of "The Tale of Genji")
courtesy of National Diet Library

Title: Hotaru (The Fireflies), the 25th chapter of "The Tale of Genji"
Artist: Ogata Gekko(尾形 月耕, 1859-1920)
Publication Date: 1892
book title: Genji 54-jo(源氏五十四帖, 54 chapters of "The Tale of Genji")
courtesy of National Diet Library

Title: Hotaru (The Fireflies)
Artist: Ichiyosai Toyokuni(Utagawa Toyokuni Ⅲ/Kunisada I , 1786-1864)
Book title: Genjiko no zu(源氏香の図)
courtesy of National Diet Library

Genjiko(源氏香) is a game in Ko-do( incense burning) in which  participators smell five scents and guess same ones. Five scents can be all the same or different. There are 52 possible combinations of answers. A collection of the patterns that show the combinations is Genjiko no zu. The combinations are assigned to the Chapters of “The Tale of the Genji.” Five vertical lines mean scents. The rightmost line means the first scent, and the leftmost one does the fifth scent. participators connect the lines that seem to be the same scents.

Set partitions 5; Genji symbols

Set partitions 5; Genji symbols

By Watchduck (a.k.a. Tilman Piesk)
 from Wikimedia Commons

Genjikonozu
Genjikonozu 
by  Mukai
from Wikimedia Commons
In the Heian Period, fireflies symbolized feelings of love, visible love, yearning heart. Actually fireflies light up to attract a mate.

Woman poet Izumi-Shikibu(ca.978-?) depicted fireflies as her visible affection for her husband in one of her waka poems. She felt like her strong feelings for him left her body and  flew around flashing. Commuter marriage was common among nobles in the Heian Period. Noblemen  visited their wives' houses. It was common that a married couple of nobles lived apart. A nobleman who lost interest in his wife gradually kept away from her. Her husband also had not seen her for a long while. 

Minamoto no Shigeyuki (源 重之, died 1000) wrote a poem about one sided love:
"Fireflies can't tell their feelings in words. They can do nothing but burn out.  They arouse pity."


In the Edo period, commoners also  went out to see fireflies when they began to appear at dusk. Edo residents visited spots to see fireflies such as Sorin-ji Temple in Yanaka, now-defunct Sugatami-bashi Bridge (an area around Nishi-waseda and Takada),  an area near Asukayama Park in Kita Ward,  an area near Iidabashi, jindai-ji Temple in Chofu City.

Title: Hotaru-gari Azuma Fuzoku(蛍狩当風俗)
        (Kabuki actor Sawamura Tanosuke Ⅲ)
Artist: Toyokuni(Utagawa Toyokuni Ⅲ/Kunisada I, 1786-1864)
Publication Date: 1860
courtesy of National Diet Library

Outstanding Kabuki actor Sawamura Tanosuke Ⅲ(1845-1878)  is graphically portrayed in this print. He was a gorgeous onnagata (an actor specializing in female roles) , even after he had his both legs amputated at the knee due to necrosis and had his right hand and left four fingers amputated.  He performed Kabuki with his prosthetic limb.

Title: Hotaru-gari Azuma Fuzoku(蛍狩当風俗)
 (Kabuki actor  Ichikawa Ichizo Ⅲ)
Artist: Toyokuni(Utagawa Toyokuni Ⅲ/Kunisada I, 1786-1864)
Publication Date: 1860
courtesy of National Diet Library

Title: Hotaru-gari Azuma Fuzoku(蛍狩当風俗)
 (Kabuki actor )
Artist: Toyokuni(Utagawa Toyokuni Ⅲ/Kunisada I, 1786-1864)
Publication Date: 1860
courtesy of National Diet Library
Title: Hotaru-gari Azuma Fuzoku(蛍狩当風俗)
 (Kabuki actor )
Artist: Toyokuni(Utagawa Toyokuni Ⅲ/Kunisada I, 1786-1864)
Publication Date: 1860
courtesy of National Diet Library



Title: Odori Keiyo Gedaizukushi(踊形容外題尽)
         Eiri shosetsu asagao monogatari(絵入稗史蕣物語)
Artist:  Utagawa Toyokuni III(Utagawa Kunisada I, 1786-1864)
Publication Date: 1856
courtesy of National Diet Library





Title: 34(A woman holding a uchiwa(fan) in her mouth and a firefly cage in her hand)
Artist: Yoshu Chikanobu (楊洲周延, 1838-1912)
Publication Date: 1898
Journal title: Shinbijin(真美人)
courtesy of National Diet Library
Children used to put fireflies into straw cages called hotarukago and placed them at their bedsides. I didn't know the cage. Some elderly people miss the cage.
hotarukago:
https://blog.tokyu-resort.co.jp/branch/nasu/200907/29/blog091636-17227.html

An around 70-year-old woman who were born and raised in Tokyo, one of my friends, saw fireflies flickering above the paddies in her childhood. They used to be common insects  even in Tokyo until about 60 years ago. Now fireflies drastically have decreased in Japan because they can live only in clean rivers. So artificially-raised fireflies are released in  many parts of Japan. Even now, there is a natural growth area of fireflies in Seijo, Tokyo. The area is not open to the public for the sake of environmental preservation.

ホタルブクロ/蛍袋 (Bellflower)
ホタルブクロ/蛍袋 (Bellflower) (credit: Dakiny/flickr)
In Japan, spotted bellflower(Campanula punctata) is called Hotaru-bukuro(蛍袋), which  literally means a sack for fireflies. It is said to be named for a Japanese lantern which was also called hotaru(火垂る). According to another account, It was named so  because a bellflower containing fireflies looked like a lighted lamp.


Hotaruyaki
Hotaruyaki (credit: raichovak/flickr)
porcelain with a transparent pattern called 'hotarude'


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dogs visited shrines on behalf of their owners(2)


10. Japanese wolf as the deity

According to an article in National Geographic(2012), Shiba-inu(a Japanese dog breed) and wolves are closer genetically than other breeds of dogs and wolves. In Japan wolves were called Yama-inu(wild mountain dogs) in the past.
 Musashi-mitake Jinja Shrine located at the top of Mt. Mitake has enshrined a Japanese wolf as the deity “Ooguchi Magami”. According to Chronicles of Japan, a white wolf led the way when Yamato Takeru no Mikoto(a Japanese legendary prince of the Yamato dynasty) got lost. The wolf commonly known as Oinu-sama has been an emissary or a subordinate to a deity.
 Oinu-sama has been enshrined as a guardian deity of mammalian pest control, fire and theft protection, protection against every accidents. Though meat-eating was officially prohibited on several occasions in Japan, game meat was available. There was very little livestock farming. So wolves benefited arable farmers. They got rid of deer, bear, wild boar, hare and other hungry animals which can ruin a crop.

The shrine is also dog friendly. Visitors can request a prayer specifically for dogs. Amulets for dogs are available. 

Musashi-mitake Jinja's goshuin-cho(goshuin note
武蔵御嶽神社の御朱印帳
武蔵御嶽神社の御朱印 posted by(C)さんばい

Go-shuin means a seal stamp given to worshippers at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. Go-shuin includes information such as the name of the temple and the date of visit written in calligraphy.

Musashi-mitake Jinja's goshuin
01_武蔵御嶽神社_御朱印
01_武蔵御嶽神社_御朱印 posted by (C)suswtl


It will be an 10 minute bus ride from Mitake station(JR Ome Line) to Takimoto Station(Mitake Tozan Cable). After 6 minutes funicular ride visitors arrive at Mitakesan Station. The shine is  25 minutes walk from the station. Each funicular car has a space for dogs.

Musashi-mitake Jinja Shrine(Japanese version only):

Around the shrine there are 26 Shukubo(pilgrim's lodging) that date back to the Edo Period. Shukubo are popular with worshippers, climbers, and hikers.

Mt.Mitake Tourisum Association:
http://www.mt-mitake.gr.jp/

Mt. Mitake Trekking 御岳山・日の出山トレッキング
Mt. Mitake Trekking 御岳山・日の出山トレッキング (credit:jetalone/flickr)


There are a lot of Shinto shrines which enshrine Japanese wolf in Japan.
Distribution map of Shinto shrines which enshrine Japanese wolf(Japanese version only):
http://www.raifuku.net/special/wolf/index.html



Mitsumine Jinja Shrine in Chichibu City, Saitama Prfecture has also enshrined a Japanese wolf as the deity “Ooguchi Magami".

Torii(shrine gate) of Mitsumine Jinja Shrine
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰 (Credit: mossygajud/flickr)
Zuishinmon gate  of Mitsumine Jinja Shrine (former Niomon gate guarded by two wooden warriors called Nio. The Nio statues were moved to another temple.)
三峯神社
三峯神社 (Credit: photoconjapan /flickr)

三峯神社
三峯神社 (Credit: photoconjapan /flickr)
A bronze torii(built in 1845) , Yatsumunemokutodai, chozusha are at the top of these stone steps.

Yatsumunemokutodai (八棟木灯台) is a decorative wooden lighting fixture built in 1857.
三峯神社 灯籠
三峯神社 灯籠 (Credit:Инариский /flickr)

chozuya(手水舎, Shinto water ablution pavilion) built in 1853
三峯神社 手水舎
三峯神社 手水舎  (Credit:Инариский /flickr)

 Haiden(front shrine) of Mitsumine Jinja Shrine
Cedar trees are estimated to be 800 years old.
三峯神社
三峯神社  (Credit:photoconjapan /flickr)
Haiden
三峯神社
三峯神社  (Credit:photoconjapan /flickr)

Haiden
三峯神社 拝殿
三峯神社 拝殿  (Credit:Инариский /flickr)

Okariya(The shrine of "Ooguchi Magami", the wolf deity)
Okariya literally means a temporary shrine. Rituals dedicated to the wolf deity are performed here because the deity usually remains sequestered in the mountains.
DSC_5374
DSC_5374 (Credit: Gaku@STUDIO-Freesia/flickr)

Stone lanterns stand on either side of front approach
三峯神社
三峯神社  (Credit:photoconjapan /flickr)
DSC_5306
DSC_5306 (Credit:Gaku@STUDIO-Freesia /flickr)

Okumiya (Inner Shrine) of Mitsumine Jinja is located at the top of Mt. Myohogatake and is 90 minutes walk from the front shrine.  Please note that bears may frequent the area.


second torii on the route to Okumiya
三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰 (Credit: mossygajud /flickr)
Yohaiden (Shrine to worship gods from a distance)
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)
Okumiya built in 1741


Komainu (狛犬, lion dogs) derives from Chinese guardian lions. A pair of komainu are placed either at the entrance of Shinto shrines, or somewhere inside. At the shrine, a variety of guardian wolf statues stand instead of lion-dog ones hither and thither. 

Most statues wear bibs offered by believers.  It is said the bibs come from a prayer to Jizo(地蔵, Ksitigarbha in Sanskrit).  Though his mission is to save people between Buddha's death and the appearance of Maitreya(弥勒菩薩, Miroku-bosatsu), Jizo is also regarded as the guardian of children because he saves dead children who have to pile stones endlessly like Sisyphus at the banks(Sai-no-kawara) of death's river (Sanzu River.) The children can't cross the Sanzu River because they predeceased their parents. Ogres unpile the stones before the children complete a tower, but Jizo gives the children salvation in the end.

It's thought that parents whose child died started to offer bibs in prayer to Jizo for their child. This is considered as the beginning of statues wearing bibs in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.

三峯神社 朔日参り
三峯神社 朔日参り (Credit:Gaku@STUDIO-Freesia /flickr)



三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰 (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)





三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)





三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰(Credit:mossygajud /flickr)

Autumn in Japan
Autumn in Japan  (Credit:blueskyfantasie /flickr)


三峯神社
三峯神社  (Credit:photoconjapan /flickr)

三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)

三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)






三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)


三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)


三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)



三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)






三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰 (Credit: mossygajud /flickr)


三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)


三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰
三峯神社奥宮 - 埼玉県秩父市三峰  (Credit:mossygajud /flickr)

11. The dog shogun

Mention dogs, and "the dog shogun" Tokugawa Tsunayoshi comes to mind.  Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (徳川 綱吉, 1646-1709), the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, is known for  the Edicts on Compassion for Living Things (生類憐みの令 Shoruiawareminorei). He prohibited the killing of living things including humans. The law was a series of bans.

He made an extensive dog shelter with an area of approximately 990,000 square meters in Kakoi-machi(former area around Nakano 4-chome, Tokyo).  The shelter had five-part fenced-in grounds and each part had a doghouse, a feeding ground, a bower, a puppy breeding facility. About 80,000 dogs had lived there between 1695 and 1709. Some veterinarians and officials were assigned there.

Dog statues stand in front of Nakano City Office where the dog shelter used to be.
犬屋敷跡 (credit: Cookie M/flickr)

In recent years, Tsunayoshi has been re-evaluated as an exceptionally talented policymaker. At the time, Japan had a savage atmosphere in the post war period. He tried to change people's consciousness so that they were attracted towards non-violence and had moral fiber. The law aimed to show mercy to living things including humans.

In Edo(former Tokyo) a lot of feral dogs roamed the streets. They often did harm to people. On the one hand, some people killed them, and some gangsters ate dog meat. Tsunayoshi housed them in his dog shelter.

Sick cattle and horses were abandoned. Samurai often injured horses to improve their appearance.  He banned abandoning and injuring them. Animal shows by snakes, dogs, cats, and mice were banned.

"Living things" included humans. At the time many children and very sick persons were also abandoned. He strictly prohibited abandoning them. Additionally, he promoted improvement of prison environments. He obligated people to register the names of pregnant women and children aged seven or under, the numbers and owners of dogs, cats, cattle, horses and firearms.

The shelter's dogs were fed by taxpayers' money. People were deeply frustrated with his overly tight control for the protection of living things including dogs, cats, birds, fish, shellfish, and worms. However, it it said that his retainers expanded the ban to include all of living things. After his death, the shelter was demolished and most of the bans were abolished. The bans against abandoning cattle horses, children and sick persons remained.

When an apartment caretaker of Nagaya(one story tenement house) found an abandoned child in front of his apartment, it was his duty to find homes for the child. Stone notice boards called Maigo-ishi were built along the busy streets in Edo.  Handwritten notes posted on the stone let passersby know about homeless and missing children.

Lost Guide Stone and willow tree in Sensoji Temple
Lost Guide Stone and willow tree in Sensoji Temple
(Credit:そらみみ/Wikimedia Commons)
stone square pillar is Maigo-ishi