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Temples where women can pray for beauty

"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness." – John Keats, Endymion

That’s one of the most famous quotes about this topic, though I – in possession of more brains than beauty and long past the age when youth serves as a consolation prize  – prefer this one:

"You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen, but if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul's own doing." – Marie Stopes

Beauty. We all want it for ourselves; we all enjoy being in its presence. Here in Japan a woman's physical appearance seems to be unusually important, based on the hours and staggering amounts of yen that women spend at "aesthetic salons" and on skincare, cosmetics and fashion. (I know only one Japanese woman who never wears makeup, and that's a friend who's a professor in anthropology.) Women want to be beautiful, and if the ¥200 000 they blew on Révive Peau Magnifique's vials didn't deliver what it promised, they can always ask Jizō for help.

The "make-up" Jizō at Gyokuhō-ji

Yes, gentle readers, of course there are temples in Tokyo where women can pray to be beautiful! Fewer than I'd have guessed, but I'll introduce you to two.

The first one is Banryū-ji (蟠龍寺) or the "temple of the sheltered dragon" in Meguro. It's actually most famous for its statue of Benten, the deity of music and fine arts, but it also has a small statue of Jizō, Oshiroi Jizō (おしろい地蔵) or "white powder Jizō", where you can pray to be attractive. If you see white powder on the statue, it's because women believe the white powder will make them beautiful.

The entrance to Banryū-ji

Banryū-ji

The "white powder Jizō" is the one on the left, with the red bib.

Benten's statue is in a cave next to Banryū-ji

Benten ema

Incidentally, I've read that kabuki actors also pray to this statue. Kabuki actor, white paint, beauty … it all fits together.

The second temple is Gyokuhō-ji (玉鳳寺) in Minato, which also has a Jizō statue with a white face. This one is called Okeshō Jizō (お化粧地蔵) or "make-up Jizō". It's said that a priest found a battered, muddy statue in this vicinity. He cleaned it and tried to repair the bruised face with white powder, but then a miracle occurred and bruises on his own face also disappeared. (I haven't been able to determine the cause of the priest's disfigurement. If anybody can help, please yell!)

The statue has the power to make you beautiful; removes scars and blemishes from your face; and helps you to recover from illness.

Gyokuhō-ji

The Jizō statue is to the left as you enter the temple.

The make-up Jizō

Food for the stomach,  Johnson cream for the all-important face

Gyokuhō-ji

More Jizō statues at Gyokuhō-ji

You know you live in the shitamachi when you start taking photos of slopes.
Look! Hill! We don't have that in our neighbourhood!

Another hill

Almost 19 m above sea level! Wow! Himalayas!

I end this short post with another wisdom I believe in:

"There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion." – Edgar Allan Poe

Perfect plastic beauty that conforms to whatever current fashion dictates? Boring. Different, unique, strong, quirky? Yes. Please. Thank you.

I've included two maps: the top one is for Banryū-ji, the bottom one for Gyokuhō-ji.




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