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"Rub Me Jizo"

Senso-ji, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan


You've heard of "Tickle Me Elmo"? Well, this is "Rub Me Jizo." Jizo Bosatsu is Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (in China, Di Cang [Ti Tsang] pu-sa). He sits in front of the Five Story Pagoda at Senso-ji, the first temple I visited on my August 2004 trip to Japan.

This temple is Number One of the Edo 33 Temples dedicated to Kannon, and was thus my logical starting point. Moreover, I had considered it my "home temple" for a number of years, since it was located a short bicycle ride from my apartment in Nippori. So I had numerous reasons to make this my first stop.

Why "Rub Me"? Because this statue is one of the thousands in Japan that are rubbed by the pious in hopes of a cure. (A more famous example of this is the Togenuki Jizo in Sugamo, which is washed--especially by old ladies--with the same expected result.)

You can clearly see the shiny spots--on the knees, for instance, and the shoulders--where the statue has been polished by the hands of the faithful in the belief that, by touching the same part of the statue as is troubling you, your troubles will be eased.

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