Japanese Ghost Story: The Impossible-to-count Bake Jizo

Rows of dozens of stone statues representing Jizo Bodhisattva can be found frequently in Japan, but during my travels across Japan I found a few of them really special.

One example is the row of statues from the Kanmangafuchi Abyss in Nikko, a wonderfully beautiful place: the Jizo are lining the trail through the forest, along the raging river… The foliage was thick and the path was a bit mysterious, especially since it was in the evening and the light was starting to fade.

But the feeling was caused by their story:

It is said that these Jizo were donated by the followers of Bishop Tenkai and that originally there were 100 statues. After a flood in 1902, some of them were destroyed or taken by the water current. But until today, nobody knows for sure how many Jizo are in this valley… because the legend says that each time they were counted… the result was different.

That’s why they are called Bake Jizo, meaning “Ghost Jizo”.

The reasonable explanation: since many statues were destroyed, some of them are completely missing, others are only a pedestal or a pile of broken rocks, but can still be counted… But I prefer the magic: maybe some of them are just invisible sometimes… (^_^)

jizo statues

Author of this article


Muza-chan (real name Lili), is a Romanian travel writer and photographer, living in Bucharest and frequently visiting Japan. She publishes daily photos from Japan, with insights and comments about the areas she visited. She also writes about Japan travel, culture and traditions and her hobbies include pop-culture, music and cuisine. 

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