A Tokyo shrine in the snow

It doesn’t snow all that often in Tokyo. And very rarely as much as it did over the weekend. So when it does, there’s the inevitable chaos and complaining: train services deteriorate, people still attempt to cycle, plus millions of others shiver in uninsulated homes.

But some of the benefits — at least initially — are that it makes an ugly city almost pretty. And pretty things quite beautiful.


The terrible sadness of Jizo statues and toys

Jizo are common sights in Tokyo — not to mention the whole of Japan. Little figures stood solemnly by the roadside. Or more often than not, in and around temples. Statues that along with watching out for youngsters and travellers, are far better known as the protectors of deceased children, including miscarried or stillborn infants. The belief being that Jizo hides them in his robes and then guides them safely to salvation.

However, invariably kitted out in red bibs and wooly hats, it’s easy to forget this sad reality behind the countless statues. Even more so the many people who dutifully go and pay respects to them. And yet at other times, it’s quite clearly, and very uncomfortably, the opposite.

Japanese Jizo