In a shrine adjacent to the main hall of the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple in Kyoto, nearly 200 small, stone sculptures of the Buddhist deity Jizo wear bibs, placed by grieving parents who have lost children.
Jizo is the protector of unborn children and children who die very young and cannot cross the Sanzu River into the afterlife. It is believed that since they have caused their parents grief by dying so young and they did not live long enough to accrue good deeds, the souls of these children are condemned to having to pile stones by the Sanzu River to help their parents eventually reach the afterlife. They must constantly start over, because the piles are knocked over by demons. Jizo helps the children through this trial, hiding them in his robes when they feel afraid and encouraging them with mantras.
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