This web site does not recommend you visiting this site because the place is very remote and isolated. If you have a good Japanese friend, ask him or her to give you a ride to visit Nashinoki Buddhist Statues.
Photo.38.1 Branch at Nashinoki from Mano-Akadomari Road
There is an old tale. One fine day, a fisherman’s boat of Toyoda village was slipping on the sea with sail. But all of a sudden the boat stopped. The fisher man checked the boat but nothing was wrong. The boat couldn’t move. And then he saw something flashing in the water. He dove into water and picked it up. It was a stone Buddhist statue of 1 feet length. He brought it back to the village and consulted with people. People built a hall on a hill that could look down the sea. The statue was settled in the hall. But still some boats were stopped. People thought the direction the statue was facing might be wrong. It was south. They rotated the statue so that it could face west. After that, an abrupt stop of sailing boat no longer happened. People understood that the statue wanted to face west1).
In the Edo Era (1603-1867), the officials of Sado Magistrate Office often had to travel to and fro Edo. Their travelling route was usually from Aikawa through Mano and Hamochi to Ogi. But there was another route through Toyoda village of Mano to Akadomari. On the way of this Akadomari troute, there is a Nashinoki Mountain Pass2), where is 3 kilometer distant from Toyoda village. The above mentioned statue and hall were later moved to this mountain pass3). Nashinoki means “a pear tree”. It is said that a big pear tree was there. There might have been a habit to plant a pear tree on roadside. Such an instance can be seen at the old path in Ogi-Misaki4).
The hall at the Nashinoki Mountain Pass is a kind of “Jizo-do”. Jizo-Bosatsu is a savior of people during the long period of Buddha’s absence. The absent period is 5 billion and 670 million years since Gotama Shiddhartha’s death until Miroku-Bosatsu comes out. Belief on Jizo-Bosatsu, as well as that on Kanzeon-Bosatsu, has a tendency to seek worldly well-being5). In the case of Nashinoki Jizo, it is a savior for children who got sick. Of course parents earnestly prayed for kid to be cured. And once the kid got recovered, then parents came here and put a small Buddhist statue (Jizo) as a substitute of their kid in order to express thanks to Jizo-Bosatsu. Now there are tens of thousands of small Jizo(s) surrounding the Jiso-do. Yearly festival is held on August 246).
Photo.38.2 Area of Little Buddhist Statues at Nashinoki
There were two places that produced stone sculptures in Sado; Kodomari in Hamochi-machi and Tsubakio in Mano-machi in the old town names7). Stones of Kodomari are gray and hard, while that of Tsubakio are with black spots and soft. A book says most of small Buddhist statues in Nashinoki were made by 63 houses of stone sculptors in Tsubakio because their stones are easy to carve8). Probably it’s true, because now it seems those small statues are worn by weathering.
If you visit Nashinoki Mountain Pass and look at those little Buddhist statues “Jizo” there, you will realize that so many people prayed so many times in such a long period of time that statues got worn. Somehow it is sad to see that statues are almost buried in fallen leaves. By the way, there is an offertory box at the hall. It asks you to offer less than 10 yen because money is often stolen. There are people who pray, there are people who steal.