There’s no better way to look after the roads than with built-in protection from one of Japan’s most revered deities.

From public murals to decorative manhole covers and construction sites with Hello Kitty barricades, Japanese street art is in a league of its own when it comes to cuteness and creativity.

Now, one of the nation’s contemporary artists is breathing new life into the humble traffic cone, with a unique design that’s set to stop traffic in an unusual manner.



Created by Fusao Hasegawa, the “Jizō Cone” features a moulded image of Jizō Bosatsu, the guardian deity of children and travellers. Known in sanskrit as “Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva”, Jizō, which literally translates to “earth womb”, is usually depicted as a robed monk with his hands clasped in prayer. Commonly referred to in Japanese as Ojizō-sama, stone carvings in the bodhisattva’s image can be seen at graveyards, where he helps to look after deceased and unborn children in the afterlife, and along roadsides and at intersections, where he watches over travellers as they continue along their journeys.

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Now Ojizō-sama has been given a new home from which to guide and protect travellers: inside the body of a traffic cone. Following the first prototype, created in 2009, the “Jizo Cone” has undergone several improvements and will now be made available for sale this summer, at a price of 8,000 yen (US$72.90) to 9,000 yen each.

▼ The cones will be available in red, green, blue and yellow varieties.


While the unique design is designed to stop traffic, it appears that the image of the bodhisattva can be quite subtle in the light of day, with a recent television appearance revealing that a Jizo Cone placed on a street in Harajuku for two hours elicited no reaction at all from passers-by.


Adults might be too tall to notice the unusual feature as they walk past the cone, but children are the perfect height to spot the image of Ojizō-sama. As night falls, the beautiful and practical works of art are sure to get even more attention as they catch the glare of headlights on the road at night-time. Let’s hope they don’t give drivers too much of a fright as they appear out of the darkness!

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Source: Japaaan
Top Image: Twitter/@hasegawa_fusao