Nikko’s hidden gem: The Kanmangafuchi Abyss and the uncountable Jizo statuesNalynn Dolan Caine ▼ | January 21, 2020
To the north of Japan, close to central Nikko, lies a gorge created from a tremendous volcanic eruption of the nearby Mount Nantai, about 7,000 years ago. It is known as the Kanmangafuchi Abyss.
Japan Stepping into another world
The area is home to a large collection of decorated stone statues Bakejizo (ghost Jizo), that line the path overlooking the Nikko Botanical Garden facing the abys.
Jizō is one of Japan’s most beloved deities and is regarded as the Bodhisattva who cares for travelers and lost souls and is also the guardian of children and children who have passed on before their parents.
Japanese people believe that red is the color to defend against evil since ancient times. Babies are vulnerable, so their parents dress them in red to try to protect them from illness and danger. Jizo statues also wear red bibs, because the worshippers offer baby bibs and hoods.
According to local mythology, these Jizō statues disappear like ghosts and are never in the same spot. A rumor has it that each time you count the figures you are faced with a different number because they routinely disappear. However as a rough guess there are around 70 along the wall overlooking the Daiyagawa River. ■