As you cross the Tamagawa stream via the Gobyonohashi bridge to enter the most sacred part of Okunoin Cemetery which contains the mausoleum of the founder of Shingon Buddhism – Kukai (Kobo Daishi) – look, to your left, into the stream.
Here you will see rows of wooden stakes, barely implanted in the stream. These sotoba, bearing sutra inscriptions, are offerings to drowned children and miscarried babies.
When the water level rises in the stream it washes away the sotoba, at the same time washing away the sorrow and sadness of the families of the departed.
This is not the only place in Okunoin where deceased children are remembered – do have a look at my review on the bodhisattva, Jizo for more details.
Entry to the Okunioin cemetery is free and possible at all hours. The main cemetery entrance, via Ichinohashi bridge, is about 15 minutes walk from the town centre (tourist office) or a short bus ride (during daytime only).