|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.