If you spend any time in Japan, it doesn't take long to notice the little stone statues tucked away here and there in the woods, and at shrines and in cemeteries. These are Jizo, statues of Buddhist divinity. They are benevolent deities who can be guardians for travelers, guides for lost souls, or protectors of children. I love their calm, quiet presence, and am always happy to find them.
Heiwa Park, with its massive cemetery, has many Jizo scattered among the gravestones. There must be thousands throughout the park, enough that I find new ones every time I visit. Often, the Jizo are adorned with hats and bibs (usually red). They are adorned in memory of children who have passed at too young an age, or in thanks for children who have been saved. The hats and bibs protect the Jizo from the elements, and also serve as a way for parents to mourn the passing of their loved ones.
There are other sections of the cemetery that are less visited, and the Jizo in these areas, having been less attended to, often take on a more organic look.
I love how the moss and lichen add color to their faces, and help them to blend into their natural environment.
Looking at their benevolent faces, their expressions impervious to the ravages of weather and time, always makes me happy.
Update: I went again to Heiwa Koen and discovered more Jizo.