Jizo statues are located in various places. We encounter it in shrines, temples, shopping districts, residential areas, road intersections, tombs, mountains, etc. It is common to see a Jizo statue in historic towns and villages. Many of them are still dedicated today as a guide for people even today.
According to Buddhism, after Buddha’s death, the next Buddha named Maitreya appeared in this world and saved us 5,670 million years later. Kṣitigarbha helped practitioners who were suffering in this world while the Buddha was absent. It’s believed that the Kṣitigarbha is in the shape of priests, meaning that it’s close to people and ready to help them. The statue is enshrined not only in temples but also in the city, in various places such as in the corners of the countryside and mountains. So it’s one of the most familiar Buddhas in Japan. Therefore, we refer to the Jizo statue as “Jizo-Sama” or “Jizo-San” with a closer friendship.
Jizo has its name because it envelops and saves those who suffer from the vast earth’s immense kindness, just as the planet has the power to create and nurture all life. And Jizo made several oaths to save sensitive beings. In this way, Jizo, who has a wide range of beliefs and high merit, is also enshrined in Zenkoji Temple located in Nagano Prefecture. As a representative example, there is Roku-Jizo, which consists of six Buddhas. To the right of the gate, there is a large, magnificent Roku-Jizo enshrined. It’s believed that human beings will be reborn into six worlds after death due to good and evil actions performed during their current lives.
The six worlds are as follows
- Heaven – The world where the gods live. It is full of fun and has a very long life. However, eventually, there is sadness and fear that he must die and leave the blessed world.
- People – The world where we humans live. Life is full of suffering, but it is said that it will be saved if enlightened.
- Asura – A world where battles and fights never cease.
- Incest – It’s the world of animals, such as cattle and horses. It is said that there is no freedom.
- Preta – A world that continually suffers from hunger and thirst. That desire is not met.
- Hell – The world’s most robust of the six realms, with constant pain.
The above six types are called “the six classes of beings.” They are also called Saṃsāra because, after death, they turn like wheels without ending these six worlds. It’s Roku-Jizo that offers help to those who are suffering in these six worlds. Jizo statues who save suffering people with infinite mercy. They also prevent disasters and protect travelers’ safety at the entrances and exits of towns and villages. Also, they protected the safety of children. In cities and villages, the statues worshiped with a red apron. It’s rare to pray Jizo on the side of the road, even if you find one outside of temples. Please stop and check when it’s placed on the street.