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Words-and-Pictures: Sai-no-kawara

Note: This selection of Words-and-Pictures was made on September 14, 2001, as I walked on the Old Tokaido.

This cemetery is on the shores of Lake Ashinoko at Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture. It is near Station #10 (from Tokyo) on the Old Tokaido Highway. You can read about my visit to Sai-no-kawara in my Logbook.

This small area where I said my prayers is actually dedicated to dead children, especially the results of abortions.

Kawara means "a field by a river," or riverbank. The Sai River, as it turns out, is the Japanese Buddhist version of the River Styx--the river souls must cross to enter the Underworld. So Sai-no-kawara is the Underworld Riverbank. It is here that souls--especially those of children--must labor in order to reach the other side.

There are many places by this name in Japan, most of them in fairly deserted areas. Although originally a Shinto idea, this concept later merged with the Jizo worship of Japan (remember, Jizo is especially a protector of children and travelers).

Today there are over 50 stones and statues at the Sai-no-kawara next to Lake Ashinoko; in the Edo period there were around 130 more.

Enough words; let the pictures speak for themselves.

Posted September 27, 2019

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