One Thousand Jizo
The following article was taken from the Akita Sakigake newspaper; 18th May 2009
Mourn those who died in battle, and in the line of duty.
"For a world without war", "As a memorial for the victims of a cave-in." In Iwayafumoto of Yurihonjō along the Oriwataritougei walkway, the 60cm tall 1012 Jizō are lined up in order. The Jizō are privately owned memorial Buddhas. On July 24th contributors from inside and outside the prefecture attend the annual Jizō festival that is held, and every year many worshippers come to visit.
With the "Oriwatari Longevity Jizō" (Oriwatari Enmei Jizō) donated two hundred years ago by the founder of Choukoku temple in the city of Akata, Koreyama Zenji, as the principle object of worship (本尊), the Thousand Jizō line the surrounding 4 kilometers (of the hill) in rows.
Taking over the ambition of a monk who saw the sacred construction sight in a dream, volunteers from the town solicited donations of "One person, one Buddha," and from 1989 it took them two years to build (the temple). According to representative of the Oriwatari Thousand Jizo support team, Mr. Takahashi Kiichiro (82), during its initial foundation there were a thousand and one statues. Damaged Jizō were replaced given the opportunity, and now there are 2012 statues.
Beneath the two statues at the top of the mountain, damaged roofing tile and other things from when the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima are buried. Mr. Takahashi, who had participated in survey research on special weapons fighter planes at the Naval/Air Force Technical Workshop (Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokosuka City) during World War II, stated "Young people of the same generation as myself got into special attack planes and one after another gave up their lives. This is also to atone for that." A stone monument was built between (the two statues), and marked with a symbol of peace.
Directly beneath Oriwataritougei, there is also a memorial Buddha marking the location of the Oriwatari Tunnel (Uetsu line) where workers were killed during its construction. According to the Ouchi town records book "Oriwataritougei", many workers were killed in a cave-in during the tunnel's construction, which began in 1942 . Before anyone knew it, the workers' breath was cut short in the darkness, and the town's women whose hearts suffered donated (the Buddha). Embedded (in the ground) beneath each Jizō is a pedestal, each displaying a different kanji character. The kanji is taken from collections of old Chinese poems such as "Senjimon" (Senjimon is a series of long poems that were written to teach children Chinese characters. The poems contain 1000 different characters). They have become a staple of visits to the temple.
- First Jizō Snow Shoe Visit (初地蔵かんじき詣, ハツジゾウカンジキマイリ)
- When: January 24th
- Mizu Kake Jizō Festival (水かけ地蔵まつり)
- When: July 23rd(13:00-21:00) & 24th(9:20-12:00)