Making Public Space in Japan: Jizo shrines in neighborhoods


  • William Siembieda


The process of creating and maintaining citizen serving public space is interest to a wide range of city design professionals and public officials.  The Project for Public Space has found that successful projects possess four qualities: they are accessible; people are engaged in activities there; the space is comfortable; and it is a sociable place: one where people meet each other and take people when they come to visit  ( Using these qualities as a framework this article explores the Japanese practice of placing small Buddhist shrines in neighborhoods, and examining how the shrines function as public spaces.


Jan Chozen Bays, Jizo Bodhisattva: Guardian of children, travelers, and other voyagers. Boston, MA, Shambhata Publications 2002.

Hank Glassman, The face of Jizo: Image and cult in medieval Japanese Buddhism, University of Hawaii Press 2012.

Bardwell L. Smith (2013). Narratives of sorrow and dignity: Japanese women, pregnancy loss and modern rituals of grieving, Oxford University Press 2013.

Jizo-bon festival with children source:

Images are by author, except as noted.




How to Cite

Siembieda, W. (2018). Making Public Space in Japan: Jizo shrines in neighborhoods. L’architettura Delle città  - The Journal of the Scientific Society Ludovico Quaroni, 9(12-13). Retrieved from



L'Architettura delle città-The Journal of Scientific Society Ludovico Quaroni