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六地蔵

“Blessed are they who do not too much fear the gods which they have made!…

Descending the shadowed steps, I find myself face to face with six little statues about three feet high, standing in a row upon one long pedestal. The first holds a Buddhist incense box; the second, a lotsu; the third, a pilgrim’s staff; the fourth, the beads of a Buddhist rosary; the fifth stands in the attitude of prayer, with hands joined; the sixth bears in one hand the shakujou, or mendicant priest’s staff, having six rings attached to the top of it, and in the other hand the mystic jewel, nioi houjiu, by virtue whereof all desires may be accomplished… Archaic, mysterious, but inexplicably touching, all these soft childish faces are.

Roku Jizou — “The Six Jizou” — these images are called in the speech of the people…” (Lafcadio Hearn, 1894, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, pp. 35, 43)

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