Juo (10 Kings; 10 judges of the hell) (十王)
All living things, including human beings, are considered to be placed in Chuin (intermediate state in which one abides) immediately after their deaths, unless they are extremely good or bad; each of them is judged by the Juo between Shonanoka (a memorial service on the sixth day after one's death) and Nanananoka (the 48th day after the date of one's death), Hyakkanichi (the 99th day after one's death), the first anniversary of his or her death, and the third year after his or her death.
During their life, Japanese people used to worship the Juo so that they would make their judgment in after life as favorable as possible. Juo were awed and feared; they were believed to send the dead to the hell (Buddhism) or the wheel of life of Rokudo (Six Realms of Reincarnation) in view of the amount of bad things each dead creature did during his or her lifetime.
Some, commonly, take the idea as a religious belief in Enma. This is because other Kings except Enma are not well-known.
Basic Data of Juo.
Taizanfukun' is thought to have been created by mixing 'Enma-o' and 'Taizan-o' (the seventh judge of Juo).
Shonanoka is actually the sixth day after one's death; it is called the seventh day after one's death because the day a person dies is counted the first day after his or her death. Other days and years (except the first anniversary of one's death) are counted in the same way. In Shinto religion, different from the Buddhism counting, 'Third anniversary' is held three years after one's death.
After Buddhism was introduced into China, in the process of syncretization with Taoism, a gikyo (apocryphal scripture) was made called "Enra-o Juki Shishu Gyakushu Sho Shichiojo Jodo-kyo Sutra" (閻羅王授記四衆逆修生七往生浄土経; for short, "Yoshu Juo Shoshichi-kyo Sutra" [Sutra of Jizo and the Ten Kings]), and Juo-shinko (10 Kings belief) was established in the late Tang period. In Taoism scriptures, there are sutras with the same name and same order preaching about Juo, such as "Genshitenson Setsu Hoto Metsuzai-kyo Sutra," "Chifu Juo Batsudogi" (地府十王抜度儀), and "Taijo Kyukutenson Setsu Shoken Metsuzai-kyo Sutra."
"Yoshu Juo Shoshichi-kyo Sutra" differs greatly from other Buddhist scriptures translated into Chinese in the following way: At the beginning of the sutra, 'stated by Zosen Chengdu, Shamon (priest), Daiseiji-ji Temple, Chengdu' was written. It was usual to write 'translated by somethingth translator Sanzo someone' in Buddhist scriptures translated into Chinese. However, 'Juo-kyo Sutra' did not follow that style. It is considered that originally written scriptures did not follow the style of Buddhist scriptures; they were made as examples to express raisan-mon (messages which expresses faith in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) or Giki (regulations prescribing Esoteric Buddhist ceremonies, incantations and services, and the iconography and standards to be used to make Buddhist statues and paintings).
"Yoshu Juo Shoshichi-kyo Sutra" preaches about the virtues of such two Buddhism ceremonies as Shoshichi-sai (生七斎) and Shichishichi-sai (masses for the dead on every seventh day for seven times). Shoshichi-sai is a ceremony that the living people hold in order to wish for peace and comfort after their own deaths; so, it is called 'Yoshu' (practicing in advance; also known as 'Gyakushu [practicing in a reversed way]). The original 'Juo-kyo Sutra' is considered to have developed from Shoshichi-sai. In Shoshichi-sai, Juo's mortuary tablets were enshrined and a brush and paper were placed in front of the tablets so that Johyobun (petition) to Tenso (gods in the heaven), Chifu (Earth Palace) and Myokan (Officers of the netherworld) would be sent by Juo. Artificial horses were also placed in order to send the petition. On the other hand, Shichishichi-sai was held by the families of the deceased for their memorial service and virtues. The main part of 'Juo-kyo Sutra,' combined of these two ceremonies, gradually focused on Shichishichi-sai. In Buddhism, it is preached that the virtues of Eko (Buddhist memorial service, prayers for the repose of the soul) are divided into seven; six of them are given to the living and the one is given to the deceased. This allocation is preached not only in "Yoshu Juo Shoshichi-kyo Sutra" but also "Kanjo Zuigan Ojo Jippo Jodo-kyo Sutra" ("Kanjo-kyo Sutra" for short; Sutra on the washing of the top of the head) and "Jizo bosatsu hongan-kyo Sutra" (The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's Fundamental Vows).
The idea of Juo spread during the Heian period together with Mappo-shiso (the "end of the world" belief) and Meikai-shiso (the "realm of the dead" belief).
"Jizo Bosatsu Hosshin Innen Juo-kyo Sutra" (a late Heian-period Japanese sutra [based on a Chinese counterpart] dealing with Jizo Bosatsu and the 10 Kings of Hell; "Jizojuo-kyo Sutra" for short) was made. "Yoshu Juo Shoshichi-kyo Sutra" was also mentioned at the beginning of "Jizojuo-kyo Sutra." Therefore, it was long believed that "Jizojuo-kyo Sutra" was originally written in China. However, recently it is considered that the authors of "Jizojuo-kyo Sutra" pretended that it had been translated from "Yoshu Juo Shoshichi-kyo Sutra" in order to dignify the sutra written by them.
"Jizojuo-kyo Sutra" has a lot of aspects to show it was written in Japan; the Sanzu-no-kawa River (the River of Three Crossings), Datsueba (literally, old woman who robs clothes of the dead; old hag of hell), and birds singing 'Hototogisu' are described; the sentences seem to have been written by Japanese people. It is considered that the Ojoyoshu written by Genshin (a Buddhist monk) was the clue to the spread of Meikai-shiso. In the Kamakura period, people believed that each one of Juo corresponded with each of Jubutsu (10 Buddha); the number grew as the time went by, and in the Edo period, Jusanbutsu shinko (13 Buddha belief) was born.
The changes in the next world
In Japan, the information about the next world increased drastically due to the introduction of the Juo-shinko belief. Before the introduction, they had a vague idea about the next world, based on the idea of the land of the dead described in "Kojiki" (the Records of Ancient Matters).
The idea of the hell (in Buddhism), which defines about the world after death explicitly, was very terrifying to individuals; it, influenced by Taoism and Confucianism. However in the time when Mappo-shiso was popular, the world after death was under scrutiny and it was natural for people to widely accept the idea of hell,which was the other world in Buddhism, with clear description.
Almost all of the Japanese ideas of the hell came from the Chinese ones, but they are not always the same as Chinese ones in some degree. The Sanzu-no-kawa River, Sai-no-kawara (the Children's limbo), Datsueba, and Keneo (an old man who hangs the clothes of the dead on a riverside tree branch) appear only in the Japanese ideas of the hell.
The trials of the dead are usually done seven times.
After his or her death, a dead person has a trial every seven days: The first is done by Shinko-o (on Shonanoka, a memorial service on the sixth day after his or her death), the second by Shoko-o (on the 13th day), the third by Sotei-o (on the 20th day), the fourth by Gokan-o (on the 27th day), the fifth by Enma-o (on the 34th day), the sixth by Henjo-o (on the 41st day) and the seventh by Taizan-o (on Shijukunichi, the 48th day after the date of his or her death). When a dead person is judged, at one trial, as not having done anything bad while he or she was alive, he or she will be reincarnated; not everyone is sent to seven judges. In general, the judgment made by Enma-o on Itsunanoka (the 34th day after the date of one's death) is the final judgment, when where the dead should go is decided. The judgment is called Indo (also known as Insetsu, the final judgment) and the phrase 'Indo wo watasu' (tell someone to get ready for the end or worst) derived from that word.
When the judgment cannot be made even after the seventh trial, the following three additional trials are held; the trial by Byodo-o (on the ceremony of Hyakkanichi), by Toshi-o (on the first anniversary of one's death), and by Godotenrin-o (on the second anniversary of one's death). However, when the judgment cannot be made after the seventh trial, the dead must go to one of Rokudo (Six Realms of Reincarnation); in fact, the additional trials are real bail-outs. If a dead person is in Jigoku-do (Hell Realm), Gakido (the Buddhist hell of starvation) or Chikushodo (the realm of animals), he or she will be saved; if he or she is in Shurado (the world of Fighting and Slaughter), Jindo (the world of human beings in Buddhism), or Ten (the heaven in Buddhism), it is considered that he or she accumulates virtues.
Buddhist services for the dead are usually held seven times and each is held every seven days; each service is held to ask Juo to decrease transgression of the dead; it is considered that religious services for the repose of the soul of the dead are done for the additional three trials so that Juo will not fail to rescue all the dead.
The judgment of Juo's trial is mainly based on 'good and bad things a dead person did before his or her death,' which is shown on 'Johari no Kagami Mirror' in the palace of Enma-o.
The judgment is also said to take 'the attitude of the deceased's family at religious services for the repose of the soul of the dead person' as 'evidence.'
Buddhist memorial services
These days, Buddhist memorial services have been simplified, and after Tsuya, (all-night vigil over a body), funeral service, and Shonanoka, no services are held until Shijukunichi (the 48th day after the date of one's death) in general.
The believers of Jodo Shinshu sect (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) do not believe in the Juo's trials but believe that all the believers will go to Gokuraku Jodo (the Pure Land [of Amida Buddha]) after their deaths, so they do not have the memorial services mentioned above.
According to "Tannisho" (Notes lamenting deviations), Shinran, the founder of Jodo Shinshu sect, said, 'I've never chanted the prayers for the sake of my parents.'
Jusan-o (13 Kings; 13 judges of the hell)
In addition to Juo, three kings, who deal with the additional three trials, are considered 13 kings (in Honji [original ground or true nature], they are Jusanbutsu [13 Buddha]).