Worship on an intersection


MaMyths3

An elderly lady runs across the intersection and throws some money at the Jizo without stopping before she jumps on the bus. She could have used this money for the vending machines just around the corner that sell cold drinks and hot coffee. The shrine is facing the ring road number 7 and is clamped between two roads. Between the small shrine and the bridge stands a monument. What is the daily use of this setting and what is being worshipped?

Intersection shrine, sign

Text on the explanation panel

These Jizos at Ubaga bashi are called Jizo Sama and the locals are familiar with them. Ubaga bashi is the name of the bridge that used to cross the Inatsuki River (also called Netsuki Yosui or Kitakouchi River), a branch of the Shakujii River that was used for agriculture. There is a story about a nanny that committed suicide by throwing herself in the river from Ubaga bashi, because one of the children she was looking after drowned in the river. It is said that this Jizo was installed for the nanny, but according to the inscription it is here to ensure the safety of travellers passing the stone bridge across the river. Another name for this Jizo is Deai (Japanese for ‘encounter’ or ‘to meet’) Jizo, because it was installed at the intersection of two roads; it was an important junction of the Jujo-Itabashi road to Kawaguchi city (Saitama prefecture) and the Oji road to the Oji Inari shrine. Both the river and the bridge were removed for the construction of the Kan-Nana Dori (ring road no. 7). But visitors still come to pray for Enmei Jizo and lots of people participate in the festival on the 24th of August.

Interviews at Enmei Jizo, December 14, 2010

“Today I came here to thank Jizo, my grand son found a new job. I know this place very well and come here regularly. The temple consists of two distinct tiny buildings, the one on the left is dedicated to having a safe pregnancy and the one on the right encourages a long and healthy life. There is a story about this place on the notice board behind the big stone. But the owner of the cigarette shop just around the corner can also tell you more about it.”

Grandmother

“A long time ago, there used to be a castle in this neighbourhood. The lord’s child drowned when his nanny lost sight of him when he was playing. The temple was built in the garden of the castle to look after the spirit the child. Later on, when the roads were built, it was placed on its current position. I often clean the temple, but other people from the neighbourhood also take care of it. The clothes on the Jizo are made by women who recently gave birth. When my grandson was born, I bought a new bell for the temple. I also provide incense and during the yearly festival I have a stall to sell incense. I visit the temple every morning.”

Owner of the cigarette shop (an elderly woman)

“The small temple on the left was build first, the one on the right was build later. My older brother died briefly after he was born. My parents used to come here every day to pray for him, addressing Jizo in the left temple. After I was born, my mother still came here every year on New Year’s day. Today I came here because I am worried about something and seeing the face of Jizo makes me feel comfortable. About 15 years ago, my mother had a cerebral infraction. I came to this temple to pray for her and only then I found out that the temple on the right encourages a long and healthy life. This temple was dedicated to the people who fled to this intersection from Hongo (Bunkyo ward, Tokyo) after the big earthquake in 1923.”

Elderly woman

“I live very close to this temple. Whenever I pass by, I stop to pray and see the face of Jizo. According to my wishes and mood, I can see the expression in his face change.”

Young woman

Every time we pick up the children from day care, we stop by to let the children ring the bell. Meanwhile we also pray ourselves.”

3 Young women with children

 

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