These photos are from a trip to the island of Sado in 2009, when I spent a couple of days driving around looking for places and people to feature in the travel story I was writing.
I found this shrine a short drive up into the hills. It is named “Nashinoki Jizo” after the tens of thousands of jizo statues in its grounds. Jizo is the Japanese name for the Buddhist Kstigarbha – statues of the deity are very common in Japan. There are even small jizo shrines on many residential streets in Tokyo.
Jizo is the guardian of children, particularly sick children, and in recent decades has been worshiped as the protector of stillborn, miscarried or aborted babies.
The Legend of the Humming of the Sai-no-Kawara, by Lafcadio Hearn (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Men and women come from far away to dedicate jizo at this shrine. The statues they leave behind are made from stones taken from the sea. Over the decades many of them have been worn completely smooth again or have sunk down into the earth.