Every Jizo in every village has a story. This is the story of Shibarare Jizo. He is completely covered with ropes people have tied around him while making wishes. The most well known Shibarare (Shi-ba-ra-re) Jizo is at Narihira Temple in Tokyo. In my search to understand this Jizo, I found this story from the Edo period in Japanese history. The Edo period, also known as the Tokugawa period, lasted from 1603 to 1868 and was characterized by the military rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. It was a time of strict social order but also a time of blossoming art and culture. But enough of history; here’s the tale:
Ōoka Tadasuke was a magistrate of Edo during the rule of shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune. He was a judiciary unto himself: the chief of police, the judge and jury. He was respected as a just man with a remarkable ability to solve unusual cases. One day, someone stole some kimono cloth from a traveling salesman. Since there were no suspects in the case, the magistrate decided that Jizo, the protector of travelers, was the guilty party. He had neglected his duty of protecting this particular traveler.
As punishment, he ordered that the Jizo from a nearby temple should be arrested, tied with ropes and brought to the court for trial. Hearing about this decision, people rushed to the magistrate’s courtroom, laughing. Holding all the spectators in contempt of his court, Ōoka punished all who laughed. Their fine: a roll of cloth. Once everyone had paid the fine, the kimono salesman was able to identify a stolen bolt of cloth and so the thief was arrested.
The rope-tied Jizo was released from court, but ever since the trial, people believe this Jizo will grant a wish for health or protection when you tie a rope around him. As you can see, below, this Jizo holds a lot of wishes. Could you add one? Mine is a wish for my readers, my Facebook fans, my JizoPeeps everywhere to have the freedom to dream and make wishes. This is often the first step toward change, toward fulfilling our potential. For me, wearing my Jizo pendant and rubbing his belly during times of stress or anxiety, helps me to remember that Jizo is the Buddhist archetype for the Earth Womb, the place where we can all feel safe to make wishes and breathe deeply.