18 Jizos of Yanaka / by Jim Hathaway

They used to be in everytown in Japan, little stone women and men along the road, said to protect children and travelers. Many are modeled in the image of a Buddhist saint, Ksitigarbha, said to have refused Buddahood until all the Buddhist hells were empty. Yanaka still has street Jizos to protect us.
                 I did a study of them, put on an exhibition in 1998, called, Stone Men, Stone Women, the 18 Jizos of Yanaka. I published a booklet with a map and words by the poet, Ko Sagae.  The exhibition was a hit but it freaked me out. People were buying my paintings not for art but as religious items, something I had not expected or intended. I stoped painting them after that. Painting is a religion with me, but I am not a religious painter.
                The exhibition was about the holy stone people that lived with us in Yanaka. It was also about the town changing. I noticed that parts of Tokyo had no jizos along thier roads. I wondered what had happened to them. I wondered what happens to a town that throws away its Jizos.