Shinpeiji Jizo



Fudo Myo-O Gallery


Jizo from Temple Shinpei-Ji 心平寺 地蔵 
Shinpeiji Jizo

© PHOTO NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)

Many years ago, when I still lived in Kamakura, a priest from temple Kencho-Ji took me around a tour, showing this statue with great pride. I saw it again last night on TV, click on the photo above for more details (in Japanese).

The valley where Temple Kencho-Ji (Kenchoo-Ji 建長寺) is located in Kamakura used to be called "Hell Valley" (jigokudani 地獄谷). It was a place where the death penalty was enforced and a small temple had been erected to pacify the souls of slain people. This temple was called Shinpei-Ji and its main deity of worship was a statue of Jizo Bosatsu.

Later the temple declined and only the Jizo Hall remained. The valley was newly structured by order of Hojo Tokiyori, now with a temple called Kencho-Ji. In 1910(明治43, the Shinpei-Ji temple was relocated to Sankei-En Park in Yokohama, but the Jizo Statue was kept.
Temple Kencho-Ji also has a statue of Jizo Bosatsu as its main deity, but this is much bigger. For a temple of the Zen sect, to have Jizo as its main deity is rather seldom, usually it is Shaka, the Buddha himself. But here the old tradition was kept alive.

The old statue of Jizo, which had survived, was placed to the right of the big Jizo statue in a small alcove, together with almost 300 small statues of Jizo, some as old as the Muromachi period. Now more small statues surround it, altogether called "one thousand Jizo statues".

This statue is sometimes called
Shinpei Jizo San, 心平地蔵さん.

The legend of Zaita is also told here. The samurai Zaita Gozaemon 済田佐衛門金吾 should have been executed here, but was not guilty. Zaita had always kept a small statue of Jizo as his personal protector deity. The sword of the executioner hit him many times, but could not cut him. His Jizo statue later showed small scratches in the back or the neck (legend differs). He later offered this statue to the temple Shinpei-Ji, where it was enshrined in the head of the main Jizo statue.

Later this small statue was incorporated as a "inside Buddha statue" (tainai butsu) when carving the Big Jizo Statue for Kencho-Ji. (Now this precious Zaita statue is kept in a secure place elsewhere.)
His small statue was later called "Zaita Jizo" 斉田地蔵.

Statue of the Big Jizo Bosatsu
© PHOTO ktmchi 北 道 倶 楽 部

More Japanses Reference

Tenju-In 天授院
Sankei-En Yokohama

The Old Shinpei-Ji 旧心平寺

© PHOTO hazukimap.sakura.ne.jp

O-Fudo Sama Gallery

... ... ... Jizo Bosatsu


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