En route to the bamboo forest – Kyoto
I found it really difficult to select photos for the recent post on the Arashiyama Bamboo forest in Kyoto, and eventually I decided to leave a few photos of our walk from the train station to the forest from another post. I very much enjoyed taking the local trains to places in Japan (as well as the superb Shinkansen bullet trains too), as it meant we ended up walking around different neighborhoods trying to get to the sites we wanted to visit. The photos in this post were taken on the way to the bamboo forest. There are shrines everywhere in Japan, and while there are often common features, they were all seemed very individual – this shrine had much larger statues than we saw in some of the other smaller shrines in residential areas.
Statues lining the edge of the shrine. We saw many statues in Japan that would have different types of red cloth attached in various ways. The best explanation of why this takes place, can be found on Daily Onigiri (extract included below).
“One of the things you’ll commonly come across in Japan are little statues, usually dressed in a red bib, called Ojizo-sama. They tend to be small and can be usually found along roadsides, around temples, and in cemeteries. So what do they mean? The ojizosama statues are one of the most popular Japanese divinities and are seen as the guardian of children (note their baby-like faces), particularly of children who died before their parents. What tourists usually find amusing are the red bibs that are commonly seen hanging on the statues. This practice is said to have begun when grieving parents put their child’s bib on the statue in hopes it would protect the child in the other world. Sometimes they even put toys and cartoon figurines around ojizosama, who are also said to be protecting children from illness.
The Japanese believe that all living and non-living things have a life and soul. That’s why they often dress up ojizosama statues in hats or some other type of clothing to protect them from cold weather. Ojizosama are also believed to protect firefighters and travellers. Thus, these statues can be even seen along lone roads. Particularly in Kyoto, there are something over 5000 of ojizosama statues.” Source: DailyOnigiri