May events at Cross Bones Graveyard

Sat 27th May –  Urban Flora Trail at Crossbones Graveyard

We’re inviting you to take a self-guided garden trail around Crossbones Graveyard. See what you can find growing and hear more about the garden’s history from our Crossbones volunteer wardens. This event can be enjoyed by all and is suitable for children. No need to book. While you are at Crossbones on
27 May, you can also catch: 

“Playing Alone with a Fox Inside a Cocoon: 繭の中で狐と二人遊び” by Todome da Fox (Noe Iwai) from 12-2pm 

A unique piece of art performed around Crossbones Graveyard’s Mizuko Jizo statues.

Words from the artist – Todome da Fox:

“In Japan, for a long time people have used Buddhist ceremonies called a Water Child Memorial Service, or Mizuko Kuyo (水子供養) to pray for the unborn.

“The Mizuko Jizo (water child statue) is a Jizo (statue) that teaches us the importance and preciousness of life as well as the awareness of a life that could not be born.

“These also stand to recognise the grief and the loss of those who did not meet the life they formed. Since I was a small child, I visited the graves with my family and paternal relatives every summer during the Obon Festival (Obon – お盆) and New Year holidays.

“There is a Mizuko Jizo grave next to the graves of my ancestors in Hiroshima. Compared to the UK, whilst Japanese culture takes great lengths to remember unborn lives – it lags behind culturally when speaking openly about reproductive rights. For example. it’s not commonplace to speak and educate minors about contraception and safe sex. Unborn lives are greatly memorialized, but there is still a lack of commitment to protecting the welfare of women’s bodies in society.

“My mother once told me I had a twin brother when I was a child, so I have lived my life with the thought that I am living it for both of us. This performance will explore the duality of our existence, the act of remembering a life that is left to begin – and the thorny history of women’s bodies and reproductive rights.

“In my performance work, I often draw from Japanese mythology and kabuki theater – which typically excludes women from the practice. Through this work, I’d like to offer a feminist exploration of grief and memory that exists within the complex culture of Japanese tradition.”

Mizuko Jizo statues at Crossbones Graveyard

Crossbones Graveyard has its own Mizuko Jizo, which we installed after being approached by several parents who had experienced baby loss asking for a space in the garden. It was suggested that this space should be created following the Japanese tradition of Mizuko kuyo – a Buddhist ceremony for those who have had a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion – Mizuko Jizo statues are part of this tradition.

Our statues were created by local Bermondsey stone craftsman Josh Locksmith and are based on a painting of Buddhist deity Jizo, believed to be responsible for transporting unborn babies or children to the other world. The god is depicted making the Buddhi mudra, a hand gesture made to improve mental clarity and communication. In the hand is the ‘jewel of wisdom’, which in Buddhist faith helps people to understand themselves and others and their place in the universe.