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Words-and-Pictures: Sai-no-kawara

(as seen on September 14th, 2001, on the Old Tokaido stage of the Aki Meguri)

Note: This cemetery is on the shores of Lake Ashinoko at Hakone in  Kanagawa Prefecture.  It is near Station #10 (from Tokyo) on the Old Tokaido Highway.  You can read about my visit to Sai-no-kawara in my Logbook.  You may also choose to start reading about my Tokaido journey at the beginning, or start at the top of my Aki Meguri pages.
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.





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