Jizo statue of friendship sent from Kyoto to Florence

Shunkai Matsuura, abbot of Mibudera temple (Tomoyoshi Kubo)

Shunkai Matsuura, abbot of Mibudera temple (Tomoyoshi Kubo)

Asahi Shimbun
February 13, 2015

KYOTO–Mibudera temple, home to a principal image of the bodhisattva Jizo, has sent a statue of the divine being to Florence this year, the 50th anniversary of sister city relations.

Buddhist monks at the temple hope the gift will be used in a ceremony in the Italian city to mark the half-century of friendship.

Anna Maria Marradi, an Italian Buddhist nun who runs Shinnyoji, a Soto school temple in Florence, asked Shunkai Matsuura, the 80-year-old abbot of Mibudera temple, for the statue last year.

Marradi, who has known Matsuura for more than a decade, said she wanted to display a Jizo statue like the ones seen on the streets of Kyoto.

In mid-January, the temple shipped her a stone-carved replica of another Jizo work dating to the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) on Mibudera’s premises. The replica is scheduled to arrive in Florence in mid-March.

Mibudera also sent a small altar to house the Jizo statue and some ritual articles that were in storage at the temple because the neighborhood had been unable to enshrine them.

In June, Florence will hold an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the sister city relationship.

Abbot Matsuura and others have contacted Italian officials on whether they can join children in Florence in front of the Jizo statue for ceremonies. They include “juzu mawashi,” a custom in Kyoto where participants pass a lengthy rosary in a circle on Jizo Bon, a festival held on Aug. 23 and 24.

“I will be grateful if we can deepen the friendship between Japan and Italy through Jizo,” Matsuura said.

The Kyo no Jizo Bon festival was selected by the city at the end of last year as an “intangible cultural heritage connecting Kyoto.”



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