Magai Wareiishi Jizo (Buddhist statue)
There is a relief of a cross-legged jizo-bodhisattva, carved on a huge rock
about 2.7 meters high, 4.7 meters wide and 4 meters thick on the seashore of
Mukotanoura Sagishima in Mihara City. It has a crosier in its right hand and
a treasure bowl in its left. It is submerged to its shoulders by high tide.
The inscription engraved on the vases cannot be identified because of exposure
to rain and wind. But judging from the transcription on another stone monument,
it reads, "killing anything within 1 cho (about 110 meters) has been prohibited
eternally." A leading advocate of the relief, Shigemori Taira, built it in 1300, or the
year 2251 after the Buddha passed away, along with some 70 concerned people,
sacred and secular. The sculptor was Nenshin.
It is said that the statue came to be called Wareiishi (literally meaning
divided stone or spirits) Jizo in modern times because of faith in the Warei
Shrine at Iyo Uwajima (now Ehime Prefecture).
It is the oldest jizo built on the promontories of the Seto Inland Sea. We can
see that faith in jizo expanded to the sea. It belongs to the older group of stone
constructions with inscriptions in the Geibi region. From an artistic viewpoint,
the statue is elaborately sculptured and quite beautiful. It is no exaggeration
to say that this is the prototype of jizo, which has spread everywhere throughout
the Seto Inland Sea area since then.
The jizo statue is submerged to its shoulders by the high tide (Photograph taken circa 1994)
An example similar to the Wareiishi Jizo can be found at Mikazaki Castle, which is located on a promontory in eastern Mitsunosho-cho, Innoshima City. A jizo stone stands on the seashore around the end of the castle site.
The illustration in Geihantsushi is titled "Shizen-ishi Jizo" or natural stone jizo. The book says that the jizo stone lies by Mt. Mikazaki in Mitsunosho Village, sculpted from natural rock about 6 meters high, and that the year 1599 and the name of Kaneishi are engraved on it.