The next book on the list is one of the most famous and beloved Japanese fairy tales. “Straw Hats for the Jizo.”
This is the story of an impoverished man who provides hats to Jizo statues to protect them from the snow. Later, they reward him and his wife with gifts.
You can see the Jizo statues in the above photo.
You may be wondering: What is a Jizo statue?
Well, it’s a god that one sees fairly often in statue form in Japan. These statues are often dressed in red, and I remember being entranced by them when I first came to Japan. I had never seen anything like them.
According to Marie Mutsuki Mocket, the author of “Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese say Goodbye.”
“The Jizo is a particularly compassionate character in the Buddhist pantheon that is greatly loved by the Japanese. While he has the ability to transcend reality and become enlightened like the buddha, the Jizo stays behind to help humans who are suffereing. He is often depicted with slightly childlike features and a warm smile; the Jizo is a figure of serenity and warmth in an otherwise frightening world.”
This morning I went out to an historical and religious section of Mt. Shinobu looking for a Jizo statue to show you. I found this one in the above photo.
(By the way….if you are not familiar with Japanese culture–the bottles are NOT litter. The water in them is for purification.)
I am guessing by its appearance that it is very old, perhaps ancient. Like I said, they are often dressed in red.
If you watch this video, you can see both the fairy tale from the book, and the red-dressed Jizo.