Yesterday I showed you a photo of a barred locked area. From the photo it doesn’t seem like much and to be honest neither did it when I was walking by. This is located just off an open path in a park located in the vicinity of Camp Courtney. The park is in a bit of disrepair today. The fountain is no longer working and much of the playground equipment has been left without maintenance. Distracted as I was I almost didn’t notice what it was I was about to walk past.
The first thing that called my husband’s attention was the smell of pine. You don’t often find pine trees in the city here in Okinawa unless there is a special place. I am not entirely sure of the meaning that pine trees have to the people of the Ryukyus but I know that at a popular shrine in Futenma pine trees once lined a path traveled by the royals. Knowing that my husband stopped me and called my attention to the right side of the walking path. He pointed out the seemingly freshly planted trees, one of which had fallen presumably due to the typhoon season that had passed a few months ago.
Behind the trees I could see the bars which had faded red paint. They were inclosed by a stone wall and there was a clear path leading towards it. Now paying attention to the area it was clear that something was inside. Upon closer inspection we saw the statue.
Jizo as he is known here in Japan stood behind the bars. This Jizo is larger and more detailed than any I have seen to date here in Okinawa. Here in Okinawa parks are a common site for Jizo because he is a beloved deity who is the guardian of children.
The facts as to why this statue is behind bars remains a mystery. Other Jizo that I have seen around have the statue in the open. My best guess is that because of it’s location the bars are meant to protect the statue from vandals.