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Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. — Thich Nhat Hanh

I recently had the opportunity to spend several weeks in Japan, exploring numerous metropolises as well as the countryside. While there, I was charmed by these little stone monuments that were found everywhere — around and within various beautiful temples, in their own little huts, in souvenir shops, or simply standing by country roadsides. They are carved with the face of Jizo (jee-zo), a Buddhist deity, who embodies supreme spiritual optimism, compassion and universal salvation. Jizo is, in the simplest terms, regarded as a guardian, savior and protector of children and travelers. After arriving safely home, I can’t help but wonder if Jizo had a hand in watching over me and those I traveled with.

— Amy DePierre