Jizo, Protector of Travelers and Children

Travel Blog  •  Pam Mandel  •  05.07.09 | 4:24 PM ET

Photo by Pam Mandel

On my latest trip to Hawaii, I left my lei draped on the Jizo statue at a little shrine on a bluff between Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach—to get there, you have to park at the Halona Blowhole viewpoint and walk back along the Kalanianaole Highway.  Last time we were there, a ceremony was taking place and we didn’t want to interrupt—a group of 20 or so people stood in front of the statue chanting in Japanese, their prayers blown away on the brisk wind.

From the East Oahu Sun: “Jizo, one of the most beloved of Japanese deities, is the guardian of children, women, and travelers. In coastal areas, fishermen and swimmers also look to him for protection. He is portrayed as fearless and is a powerful image of hope and solace.”

There’s a short movie here in which John Clark, a former lifeguard who’s exhaustively documented Hawaii’s beaches, talks about the Japanese immigrants who built the Jizo shrines.

The Pacific is a fierce entity, so in addition to practicing good beach safety, it can’t be a bad idea to ask for a little extra protection from the gods.

Pam Mandel is a freelance writer and photographer from Seattle, Washington. Her work has appeared in a variety of print, radio, and web publications and she's contributed to two guidebooks, one on British Columbia and one on Hawaii. She plays the ukulele, has an internal beacon that is surprisingly capable of locating the best baked goods in town, almost any town, and speaks German with a Styrian accent. Learn more on her personal blog at Nerd's Eye View.

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