Essay 2 – Jizo
The second time I asked my grandmother what I should write about, she suggested the “Jizo” of our community. Jizo, in general, is the statue of Bodhisattva. They are less than 3 feet tall, round face, and serene facial expression with the hand gesture of a Buddhist monk. They are often enshrined for the protection of a community.
Our Jizo had been protecting our neighborhood since my grandmother was growing up in a house behind the Jizo shrine. When I was a child, the Jizo shrine was placed in the nook of wild trees, and to access the shrine, we had to bend our head to go through a narrow path. Even though the shrine was old and its surroundings were unkempt, local people always visited the Jizo to pray. I knew this because whenever I looked into the shrine, there were offerings such as candies and rice crackers. My grandmother told me to take and eat the offerings because, in that way, we received the Jizo’s blessings.
My grandmother told me about a boy who visited the Jizo’s shrine every day to pray. One day, he was hit by a car on his way to school in front of Jizo. Everyone thought of the worst, but the next moment, he was sitting on the road curb, unharmed. People talked that Jizo saved his life. My grandmother told me that I must pay a visit to Jizo whenever I pass it, and if I was in a car, I had to give a little head bow at least.
The essay was again praised by Miss Kawano and read to the class.
After writing the essay, I visited Jizo more frequently and bowed to it when I was in a car or a bus. When my third aunt visited us from Tokyo and passed by Jizo in my father’s car, I noticed her close her eyes and bow to Jizo as we passed it.
A few years after I wrote the essay, the shrine was rebuilt, and wild trees around it were cleared. There were more visitors, and they left fresh offerings for children to take.