on the street by Jim Hathaway

Street Jizos

They used to be in every part of town,  and in the countryside of Japan, little stone men and women beside the road, to protect children and travelers. They are modeled in the image of a Buddhist saint that is said to have refused Buddahhood until all the rest of us sinners was able to get there, not wanting to leave us behind.

Yanaka still has some of its street Jizos to protect us. My question is, what happened to them in the other parts of town? And what happens to a town that throws away its jizos?



the journey begins by Jim Hathaway

 Travels in Low City

My part of town, the Japanese  name for this part of Tokyo is Shitamachi, directly translated it means, “"Downtown.” But there is a problem with translating it directly because, downtown, already has a meaning in English, and the Japanese mean something different. Edward Sidensticker translated it Low City because that is the way Edo was divided. The high City for the high born, warlords, and their samurai.

The low born, merchants, craftsmen, entertainers and the like were squeezed together into what had been and partly remained wetland. It was crisscrosses by canals, tidal pools, and it was bursting with life.  Still is.  I would be proud to show some of my favorite parts.