Several years ago, I enjoyed a walk around Shinjuku with a fellow photographer. During our time together, we came upon a statue of the Buddha at a local temple. I thought it was brilliant to see this huge thing only a short walk from one of Tokyo’s busiest stations.
Well, I should say, I thought it was a Buddha. It was in the pose of someone sitting and praying (or meditating). How could I be wrong? It was what I was used to seeing.
That was in 2019. When I revisited it in 2021, I realized my error. Yes, I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.
It wasn’t a Buddha. I was utterly wrong. If it wasn’t that, what was it? Here is a hint. Look around its neck. What do you see? A red bib. That should be a dead giveaway!
It is a jizo statue! A guardian of children, travelers, and firefighters. No mistake. That is what it was.
How embarrassed do you think I felt? Quite, let me tell you. When I first laid eyes on the statue, the size of it deceived me. I ignored all the telltale signs.
This one is quite famous historically. There is a plaque under it that tells the story. It is one of the six big jizo statues in Tokyo. That means there are another five in the city, somewhere.
So, I did a little research. And I discovered Vicki L. Beyer, on her website, Jigsaw Japan has a great article about them. She goes into why they were built and who built them. Of course, you can see the locations as well. It is good reading.
Where is this jizo statue?
It is at Taisoji temple, in Shinjuku. If you walk from the JR station, it should take roughly ten minutes. Here is a Google map:
Are there other photo spots in the area?
Anyway, it is good to set the record straight at last! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. And if you have seen the other jizo statues, let us know that too!