Can I take a moment to express how fabulous it is this time around to have tools like the internet to look up stuff that I otherwise might forget to ask about or ask about and not really understand? Technology is a good thing. It also means I get to chat online with my Tom here and there throughout the day and video chat once in awhile. I don`t know how I ever did this before the internet.
Back to these special Jizo statues. They are called kasajizo (or also kasakojizo), and they represent a well-known (except that I didn`t know it until now) folktale in Japan.
Please go read it now. It`s not terribly long, but it`s sweet and worthwhile. Then, if you have kids, please go read it to them. A little exposure to the concept of compassion once in awhile is probably good for kids of all ages, I think. This is all good timing, too, since we are nearing the end of the year, which is when this story takes place. Go. Read. I`ll wait.
Did you read it?
If you didn`t, promise you`ll go read it later, but here is nutshell version: Old man, old woman, poor in the countryside with no money for rice cakes on New Year`s Day (which, you really kinda gotta have). They make straw hats (kasa) to sell in town for money, so the old man went to sell some to buy rice cakes but sold none, so he was coming home empty handed when it started to snow. Along the way, there was a row of 6 Jizo statues, and he felt bad that they were probably getting so cold in the snow, so he took the 5 straw hats that he had and covered their heads. Since there were 5 straw hats and 6 Jizo statues, he gave his own hat to that last one. When he returned home and told his wife, she didn`t bitch or moan or nag or berate him or call her friends to talk about how all men are stupid and lose their hats (sorry, side rant) but praised him for being so kind and said how being kind is way better than having some rice cakes. They went to bed but awoke in the wee hours to a loud noise, which was that of one of the biggest and most delicious rice cakes (like, evar, yo) being dropped at their front door. Footprints in the snow led out into the distance to the six Jizo statues, still gratefully wearing the hats. They had a very happy new year andlivedhappilyeverafter.theend.
Even shorter 9 short sentences version is here. I accommodate.
Since I already have a soft spot in my heart for the concept of Jizo statues and because, too, a part of me still believes that stuffed animals can feel things (I mean, I know in my head that they can`t but some part of my heart still thinks they can), this story touches all the mushy corners of inside me. Every time I see kasajizo from this point on, I`ll probably get a dopey Awwww.... look on my face. I probably saw these last time I was here but just didn`t notice and definitely didn`t know the story. I`m glad I wondered.