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Around Japan:Zen priest collects 107,000 icons for A-bomb victims

To mark the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki next year, an American Zen priest has collected more than 100,000 images of jizo, the Buddhist guardian deity for children.

Jan Chozen Bays, 59, is also a pediatrician.

She serves as a priest at a Zen Buddhist temple in Oregon.

She decided to collect drawings and figurines of jizo in memory of those killed in the bombings and as a prayer for peace while visiting Hiroshima in September 2002.

Her goal is to collect a total of 270,000 images, the number of lives believed lost when the two cities were bombed.

Born on Aug. 9, 1945, the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, she now cares for people physically as a pediatrician and spiritually as a Buddhist priest in Clatskanie, Oregon.

She has collected 107,000 jizo over the past two years and two months.

Figurines and drawings were sent to her by people in eight countries. Many of them came from within the United States. Others were sent from as far away as Germany, Australia and China.

About 300 jizo images came from Japan, she said.

``The thought that something has to be done for the victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is spreading among people little by little,'' she said.

``I hope that I will be able to collect jizo (images) from the seven continents throughout the world.''

Her collection of jizo items will be exhibited at the Nagasaki Peace Museum in Matsugaemachi district in August.(IHT/Asahi: December 28,2004)


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