Jizo Bosatsu (地蔵菩薩)

Jizo Bosatsu (d kSiti gharbha in Sanskrit) is one of the venerable entities of Bosatsu, which is worshipped in Buddhism.
d kSiti' means 'the earth' and 'gharbha' means 'in the womb' or 'womb,' but it is freely translated into 'Jizo.'
It is also translated into Jiji, Myodo and Muhenshin.

The sanmayagyo (symbols) are Nyoi-hoju (a sacred jewel that is said to remove suffering and be capable of granting every wish), Doban (a kind of sublime article, a rod with a streamer on the top) and Shakujo (a pewter staff). Shushi (Mikkyo, Esoteric Buddhism) (Shuji) is ha.

It is named after the belief that it enwraps troubled people with its immeasurably great mercy and saves them, such that the earth has the power to cultivate all lives. It is generally believed to be 'a protective deity of children' so that the sweets that children love are often offered on the altar.

Generally, it is affectionately called 'Ojizo-san' or 'Ojizo-sama.'


It is considered that it follows Shaka-muni Buddha in the Touriten (Trayastrimsa heaven) and senses the capability of living things each morning in Dhyana (meditation), and that it is a Bosatsu that relieves living things who live in the wheel of life of Rikudo (the six realms of Jigoku-do (Naraka realm, or hell realm) (地獄道), Gaki-do (Preta realm, or hungry ghost realm), (餓鬼道), Chikusho-do (Animal realm) (畜生道), Shura-do (Ashura realm, or realm of demigods) (修羅道), Jin-do (Human realm) (人道) and Ten-do (Deva realm, or realm or blissful state) (天道), while there exists no Buddha in this world after Shaka entered nirvana and before Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva) appears, 5670 million years later.

Features of the statues

Many statues are generally expressed in the figure of a shaven Shomon or Bikuni (figures of priests or priestesses) putting on robes with Nyoi-hoju in the left hand and Shakujo in the right hand or with Nyoi-hoju in the left hand and Yogan-in figurative gestures (wish-granting mudra, showing the palm and hanging down) in the right hand.

However, in Mikkyo it is expressed in the normal figure that piles its hair high and wears accessory as a principal image of Garbha-mandala Jizo-in; it has Nichirin (日輪) in front of the right-side breast in the right hand and has a lotus that bears Doban while placing the left hand on the left hip.


The benefits of Jizo Bosatsu Hongan Kudoku-kyo sutra are as follows:

Twenty-eight benefits

1. The Tenryu (protective deities) will guard and defend thee; 2. the fruits of goodness and virtue will shine increasingly on thee; 3. the wisdom of the sages shall accumulate within thee; 4. no retreat along the Bodhi path will be suffered by thee; 5. food, drink and clothing will not be lacking for thee; 6. disease and illness will not harm thee; 7. calamities of fire and water will not hurt thee; 8. thieves and robbers will not trouble thee; 9. respect from others will come to thee; 10. demonic spirits shall (even) aid thee; 11. from female to male transformed thou will become; 12. female minister to kings thou will become; 13. comely in appearance thou will be; 14. constant rebirth in deva heaven shall be accorded thee; 15. the role of monarch may fall unto thee; 16. wisdom from previous lives shall illuminate the future for thee; 17. all those who beseech thee shall follow thee; 18. a joyous and content family shall be granted thee; 19. chance, falsehood, and untrue doctrines shall cease to thwart thee; 20. eternal freedom from the karmic chain shall be thine; 21. no obstacles along any path shall obstruct thee; 22. peaceful and untroubled dreams will slumber bring thee; 23. thy ancestors who suffer from evil karma shall be liberated; 24. reborn shall they be, based on the good karma of thy past life; 25. praised by the sages thou will become; 26. intelligent and wise in nature thou will become; 27. rich in kindness and compassion thou will become; 28. enlightened thou will become.

Seven benefits

1. They shall rapidly climb the divine stages of advancement; 2. they shall be free of all bad karma; 3. they shall be guarded by all the Buddhas; 4. they shall never again suffer setbacks along the Bodhi path; 5. they shall experience greater willpower to do good; 6. they shall remember their past lives and experiences; 7. they shall eventually achieve Buddhahood.

The relationship to the thought of Juo (Ten Kings)

Among Enra-o-juki Shishu Gyakushu Shoshichiojo Jodo-kyo Sutra (閻羅王授記四衆逆修生七往生浄土経) (Yoshu Juo Shoshichi-kyo Sutra, Yuxiu Shiwang Shengqijing Sutra) and Juo-kyo Sutra (Jizo Bosatsu Hossin Innen Juo-kyo Sutra), a belief that Jizo Bosatsu is the same entity as Enma, tied with Juo belief in Taoism. According to that, the king Enma watches people closely as Jizo Bosatsu so that he can fairly bring the dead to justice.

The Jizo faith in Japan

In Japan since the Heian period, when the Pure Land Faith was widespread, people increasingly believed that the living things who could not be reborn in the Land of Bliss after death inevitably went to Hell, so that they had to hope from Jizo Bosatsu for relief from their suffering in Hell.

There is a folk belief that Jizo Bosatsu guards children who are bullied by ogres at Sai-no-kawara (the limbo of children) so that Jizo Bosatsu has been worshipped for the veneration of children and miscarried fetuses. Moreover, in the Kansai district Jizo Bon is held as a children's festival.

Additionally, it has been syncretized with Doso-shin (Doso-jin), the traveler's guardian deity, so that many stone statues were enshrined by the roadsides throughout Japan.

The Jizo faith in China

In China, Jizo Bosatsu is called Jizo-o Bosatsu (tied with Juo thought) and is worshipped as a master of the underworld. Because it brings the dead to justice as the king Emma, it is mainly worshipped in order to wish for relief (from Hell) after death. In the Naka Ward of Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture (Japan) there exists Jizo-o-byo Temple (Chuka Giso) (Chinese cemetary), which was built by Chinese residents and enshrines the rest of the dead.

The sacred place of Jizo-o Bosatsu is Mt. Jiuhuashan, in Anhui Province. This is based on the fact that a priest Jizo (696 to 794), who is also called Kin-osho or Kana Jizo in Shiragi, the Silla dynasty, lived in Huacheng Temple at this place. Jizo, who entered nirvana in this place at the age of 99, remained the same figure as living when his casket was opened three years later in order to be enshrined in a tower, so that the faith to see him as the same as Jizo-o Bosatsu was created and the place of the tower became a sacred site of Jizo-o Bosatsu. According to that historical event, it has been worshipped until now as a sacred place in Chinese Buddhism, as have Mt. Wutai Shan of Monju Bosatsu, Mt. Emeishan of Fugen Bosatsu and Mt. Putuo of Kannon Bosatsu.


In Japan the statues of Rokujizo, which consist of six statues of Jizo Bosatsu, are enshrined in various places. This is originated from a theory that six kinds of Jizo Bosatsu relieve each of the six worlds, based on the Buddhist concept of Rokudo-rinne or Rebirth in the Six Worlds (whereby all lives repeat incarnation in the six worlds).

Each name of Rokujizo is unauthorized. In many cases they are called Danda Jizo, Hoju Jizo, Hoin Jizo, Jiji Jizo, Jogaisho Jizo, Nikko Jizo or Kongogan Jizo, Kongoho Jizo, Kongohi Jizo, Kongodo Jizo, Hokoo Jizo, Yotenga Jizo in the order of Jigoku-do, Gaki-do, Chikusho-do, Shura-do, Jin-do and Ten-do, but some documents describe names other than the above. At any rate, it is nearly impossible to determine each name of Jizo Bosatsu only by its features.

In Japan the statues of Rokujizo are often enshrined at the entrances to cemeteries and so on. In the Golden Hall of Chuson-ji Temple, each of six statues of Jizo Bosatsu are placed on the three Buddhist altars in which the bodies of FUJIWARA no Kiyohira, FUJIWARA no Motohira and FUJIWARA no Hidehira are placed, and the figures of each statue are nearly identical to one another.

The transmigration of the kings in ancient India

A long time ago there lived two kings who were abundantly merciful in India. One of the kings thought he would relieve people by becoming Buddha by himself, and he became the Buddha called Issaichii-nyorai. However, the other king dared to reject becoming Buddha in spite of being capable of doing so; instead he willingly went to Hell, keeping his human form, and continuously endeavored to relieve all the troubles and wandering of souls. He is Jizo Bosatsu. There are many stories that the miraculous efficacy of Jizo Bosatsu is enormous enough to diminish people's sins and make them Buddha, and that he relieves people as a scapegoat for their suffering.

The guarding or relief of children

Although Bosatsu is a Buddha ranked at high status next to Nyorai, Jizo Bosatsu stepped down from the status with the determination that ' I won't go back to the Bosatsu world unless my wish to relieve all living things comes true,' and he continued travel to relieve unrelieved living things and the souls of young children who died before their parents, walking on foot through Rokudo.

It is said that a young child who dies before his parents cannot cross the Sanzu River but must continue to build a stone stupa forever; that he must suffer from the bullying of ogres at Sai-no-kawara because he makes his parents grieve; and that he will not accrue pious acts of filial devotion to his parents. There is a famous anecdote that Jizo Bosatsu is first to go to Sai-no-kawara and guards children from ogre, gives virtue by preaching Buddhism dharma and sutras, and leads them to the way to become Buddha.

As mentioned above, Jizo Bosatsu is the Bosatsu who relieves the weakest people above everything else, so that he has been worshipped enormously since ancient times.

Relationship to the Hungry Ghosts' Feeding Festival

In more recent times there has been a widespread story that the spot under Jizo Bosatsu's feet is the entrance of the world of Gaki (hungry ghosts). When water is poured on the statue of Jizo Bosatsu, it pours into the mouth of Gaki, who suffers forever in the netherworld.

It is said that although Gaki in Buddhism has a burning tongue because of the sin of having told a lie in life so that he cannot drink or eat because everything in his mouth is burned away, the water through Jizo Bosatsu's mercy can reach Gaki's throat and he can interrupt suffering for a while (during which people pray for Gaki to become Buddha by reading mass and reciting sutras with great virtue as part of the Hungry Ghosts' Feeding Festival).

This is a story that shows the pious acts of Jizo Bosatsu, who is said to pour mercy upon all six worlds without prejudice; accordingly, the Hungry Ghosts' Feeding Festival was established as associated with Jizo Bosatsu.

In Buddhism a nefarious person who denies and criticizes Buddhism is called ichi-sendai (一闡提) (or simply sendai), which also means simply 'a person who has difficulty becoming Buddha,' so that Bosatsus such as Jizo Bosatsu and Kannon Bosatsu, who dared not to become Buddha through their great mercy in relieving all living things, are called 'Daihi Sendai' and are clearly distinguished from the normal sendai.

The relationship to Doso-shin

The above 'Rokujizo' is Jizo-son (statues of Jizo), who guards each of the six worlds, and therefore many statues were placed at funeral homes and graves. Additionally, it was combined with the faith for Doso-shin (Japanese Shinto deity), so many statues were built as 'guardian deities of the barriers of town' outside of towns or on streets. Jizo Bon is a festival that enshrines this as a principle image. Moreover, because Doso-shin is called Shaguji, the Jizo Bosatsu that syncretized with Doso-shin came to be called Shogun (将軍) Jizo by combining the letters of "Shogun" with "Shaguji" (it is also written as 勝軍 (Shogun)).

"Journey to the West"

In a folkloric tale "Journey to West," Jizo-o Bosatsu is described as he tells Gyokukotaitei (玉皇大帝) in Heaven about the violence of Sun Wu Kong (Seitentaisei, 斉天大聖), from Hell, as a master of the underworld.

Mantra, Shingon

On Kakaka Bisanmaei Sowaka (唵 訶訶訶 尾娑摩曳 娑婆訶)

Suijaku-shin (Trace manifestations of gods)

The gods regarded as Honji Suijaku of Jizo Bosatsu in the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism are Atago-no-kami (a deity) and Amenokoyane.

Names of various Jizo Bosatsu

A scapegoat for the pain of sickness
Kesho Jizo (Jizo of makeup)
Oshiroi Jizo (Jizo of face powder)
Arai Jizo (Jizo of wash)
Aka Jizo (red Jizo)
Misoname Jizo (Jizo who licks miso (Japanese soybean paste))
Agonashi Jizo (Jizo without a chin)
Shio Jizo (salt Jizo)
Anko Jizo (Jizo of sweet bean paste)
Kubinashi Jizo (Jizo without a neck)
Kubikiri Jizo (Jizo with its neck cut off)
Ashikiri Jizo (Jizo with its toes cut off)
Kamihari Jizo (Jizo wrapped in white paper)
Koshiore Jizo (Jizo bent from the waist)
Sekidome Jizo (Jizo who stops a cough)
Iki Jizo (Jizo carved into a living tree)
Nurikobe Jizo (Jizo to which sickness can be applied (nuri))
Mearai Jizo (eye-washing Jizo)
Kurokane-yaki Jizo

A guardian deity for healthy babies and child rearing

Sai-no-kawara Jizo
Kosodate Jizo (child-raising Jizo) and Koyasu Jizo (Jizo for children's health)
Komori Jizo (babysitting Jizo)
Santai Jizo (three Jizos)
Haraobi Jizo (Jizo with maternity girdle)

Protection from evil

Kuginuki Jizo (nail-pulling Jizo)
Togenuki Jizo (thorn-pulling Jizo)
Indo Jizo (Jizo who recites a requiem)
Mizuko Jizo (Jizo who comforts the souls of dead fetuses or stillborn babies)
Rokujizo (six Jizo)
Kunuki Jizo (Jizo who saves people from suffering)
Kegawari Jizo (Jizo with changed hair)
Funanori Jizo (sailor Jizo)

Making prognostications of disasters and protection from danger

Asekaki Jizo (sweating Jizo)
Shibarare Jizo (Jizo bound with rope)
Imo Jizo (potato Jizo)
Hoyake Jizo (burnt Jizo)

Life extension, good-luck and victory

Enmei Jizo (life-prolonging Jizo)
Kubitsugi Jizo (neck-connecting Jizo)
Shogun Jizo
Higiri Jizo (Jizo who grants a wish of a specific date)
Kaiun Jizo (Luck-bringing Jizo)
Mujin Jizo (also said to prolong life)

Major temples that enshrine Jizo Bosatsu

National Treasure
Horyu-ji Temple (Ikaruga-cho, Nara Prefecture) - the early Heian period (in Omiwa-ji Temple)
an important cultural properties (designated by the government)
Kinomoto-jizo-in Temple (Joshin-ji Temple) (Kinomoto-cho, Ika-gun, Shiga Prefecture) - the three major Jizo-son in Japan, Kamakura period
Koryu-ji Temple (Kyoto City Kyoto Prefecture) - Heian period (Umoregi Jizo)
Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) - Heian period (Katsurakake Jizo)
Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) - Heian period (Katsurakake Jizo)
Joruri-ji Temple (Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture) - Heian period
Obitoke-dera Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) - Kamakura period (Obitoki Koyasu Jizo)
Todai-ji Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) - Kamakura period, placed at Koke-do, made by Kaikei. Todai-ji Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) - Kamakura period, placed at Nenbutsu-do, made by Kosei.
Fukuchi-in Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) - Kamakura period
Denko-ji Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) - Kamakura period (Hofuku Jizo)
Murou-ji Temple (Uda City, Nara Prefecture) - Heian period (one of the five statues)
Hokai-ji Temple (Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture) - made by Kenen who was a Busshi, a sculptor of Buddhist statues

Kogan-ji Temple (Toshima Ward, Tokyo) - Sugamo Togenuki Jizo-son
Kencho-ji Temple (Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture) - Jizo Bosatsu is the principal image. Mibu-dera Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) - Jizo Bosatsu is the principal image. Nyoi-ji Temple (Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture) - Jizo Bosatsu is the principal image.
Enshu-in Temple (Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture) - Otasuke Jizo-son

Buddhist sutras associated with Jizo Bosatsu

Jizo San-kyo Sutra
Jizo-bosatsu Hongan-kyo Sutra
Daijodaiju Jizo Jurin-kyo Sutra
Sensatsu Zenakugoho-kyo Sutra
A fake sutra believed to have originated in China
Enra-o-juki Shishu Gyakushu Shoshichiojo Jodo-kyo Sutra
Jizo Bosatsu Hossin Innen Juo-kyo Sutra
A fake sutra believed to have originated in Japan
Bussetsu Enmei Jizo-bosatsu-kyo Sutra

[Original Japanese]