As one leaves the bangai that represents the site where Emon
Saburo dashed the Daishi's begging bowl to the ground, it's a short way
up a country road to a left turn. From there the road heads into
rice fields. Soon, at a small cluster of houses, one sees a mound
on the left of the road, looking for all the world like one of the ichirizuka*
that mark the Tokaido highway. But this one has a statue of Jizo,
patron of dead children, on top, as well as several other old stones.
It is the first of eight burial mounds said to be those of the sons
of Emon Saburo, who died because of their father's stinginess.
At first, I saw only this one mound. Then, looking across the
narrow lane, I saw the second.
After that, I was stumped. There was a house next to the second
mound; as it turns out, it was blocking the view of the others.
Walking down the side lane next to the house, I encountered an old man
and woman combing rice stalks. Asking directions, I was told to
back up about five steps, and follow a path about two feet (60
centimeters) wide between two buildings. A pit bull--caged at eye
level--was going mad barking at me as I passed, scarier than any Nio**.
At the end of this small lane stood the third mound.
Returning to the lane where the old folks were, I asked if only three
mounds remained. (Statler affirmed that there were eight just
thirty years ago.) Laughing, they told me to step past the next
building. I did--and saw two more mounds in an open field.
"Five?" I asked. No, they said, climb the fourth one and
you'll see the rest.
Indeed--there were five mounds in the open, plus the two near the
houses and the one across the first road, eight in all. Each has,
as Statler described, a statue of Jizo and a tree (though the tree on
the sixth mound is new).
*The mounds, located one ri
apart, on the Old Tokaido. One ri was the distance a
burdened man could walk in one hour, equivalent to a little less than
four modern kilometers. Read here about
one of the best of the many sets of ichirizukas that I saw.
**The Nio are the frightening
gate guardians one sees when entering a Buddhist temple. You can
see examples on my pages for Kasadera Kannon
and Horyuji, and perhaps the most famous
pair in Japan (in a magnificent gate) at Todaiji.
||The First Mound:
In this shot, I've passed the mound and am looking back at
it; it's on the left side as one approaches from the bangai
at Emon Saburo's gate.
|The Second Mound:
This mound--unlike all the others--is so heavily overgrown
that I almost didn't recognize it as a mound at all. There
is a Jizo at the top, however, through all this foliage.
||The Third Mound:
This is the one located between houses.
|The Fourth Mound:
This is the first of the "field" mounds. It's
actually right next to a house, but from it one can see most of
the other mounds across the fields.
||The Fifth Mound:
The Jizo is behind the tree in this shot. Notice that
the mound is covered by recently-cut grass, as were all of the
field mounds. They were probably taller-looking--and
greener!--a week or so ago.
|The Sixth Mound:
Something must have killed the tree on this mound; this
little spindly character is nothing compared to the patriarchs
on the other mounds.
||The Seventh Mound:
Severely cut back, this tree continues to sprout
nevertheless. I imagine the rice farmers don't want these
trees throwing too much shade on the fields, so they keep them
|The Eighth Mound:
This one has a more abrupt shape than the others; also, the
tree behind the Jizo may be dead.
||A close up of the Jizo on the eighth
mound; as nearly as I could tell all the Jizos were identical.
|Looking back, we see the eight and
seventh mounds on the right. Numbers six and five seem to
blend into one on the left. The fourth mound is visible in
the center, in front of the white wall; and to the right of the
white wall is part of the foliage from the third mound, which is
located between houses. Numbers two and one are beyond the
buildings behind the fourth mound.