Memorial service dedicated to the bodhisattva Jizō that is intended to bring solace to the souls of infants who were stillborn or suffered from miscarriage, abortion, or some other accident that prevented their birth. Since the Kamakura period (1185-1333), Jizō has been regarded as the savior of children, rescuing their lost souls at the banks of the river Sai in the realm of the dead. Mizuko kuyō ; are held with increasing frequency in Japan today because of the increased number of abortions performed on young unmarried women. Because aborted fetuses and stillborn infants are not provided with graves of their own, many temples have established a monument to them in a corner of the temple precincts. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)
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