Parents' grief carved in stone

The pain of losing a child can be devastating, and some Japanese parents deal with their grief by finding comfort in these small stone statues called jizo.

The Jizoji Buddhist Temple in Ogano, in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, enshrines some 15,000 jizo dedicated to the souls of those who died at a young age, including miscarried and aborted babies.

Hundreds of the temple's followers gathered on Monday for the traditional Obon prayer, one of the days the souls of the dead are believed to return to the world.

The statues are said to be the protectors of these young ones. In winter, they are sometimes dressed in warm clothes in the hope that they will do the same to their little wards in the afterlife.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2018, with the headline 'Parents' grief carved in stone'. Print Edition | Subscribe