1. Thank you! Being in the highland forests of Japan definitely made me believe in other worlds! It was an intensely spiritual place – and the friendly statues of Jizo, protecting us, made it ever more so…

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    1. Me too! And I think that is exactly the connection, as I mentioned to Jan. The stillborn babies have to pile rocks together on the shores of the river of the dead – basically earning the karma they might have earned in life and making amends for the sadness they caused their parents. Jizo assists them in their efforts, shielding them from rock-pile-wrecking demons and comforting them in their task.

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    1. I know! Around the base of the statue were both coin offerings and rocks – our guide explained that the rocks represent the arduous task (and journey) that stillborn babies must undertake in the afterlife. They must pile rocks high enough to escape the river banks and cross the river of the dead. Jizo helps them to do this and relieves their suffering.

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