Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Tamon-in Temple and the Cute Tiger Figure-Covered Precinct

If you have a car and plan to visit Tokorozawa in late spring or autumn, visit Tamon-in (多聞院). The temple is a renowned spot for peony and fall foliage hunting. Besides the natural scenery, pilgrims can enjoy a couple of fun rituals. In addition, it is a temple filled with tiger elements!

Tamon-in and Vaiśravaṇa and Tigers

Tamon-in was erected in 1696 by the lord of Kawagoe Domain, Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu (柳沢吉保), as the guardian temple for the newly developed area. Initially, a Vaiśravaṇa statue was enshrined. So, the main worship hall is a Bishamondō Hall (毘沙門堂).

It is said that the Tamon-in’s golden Vaiśravaṇa belonged to the famous war worrier in the 16th century, Takeda Shingen (武田信玄). Apparently, he always carried the 5.32cm-tall statue in his armor. The hidden image is exhibited to the public every 12 years in the year of the tiger.

What does Vaiśravaṇa have to do with tigers? It is because tigers are the deity’s messengers. So, instead of the usual lion dogs, a pair of tigers guard the Bishamondō. On the 1st of May each year, a Tiger Festival (寅まつり) is held at Tamon-in.

Tamon-in’s Surrogate Tiger (Migawari-tora, 身代わり寅)

At Tamon-in, small surrogate tigers are sold. It is said that if you offer one of them in the temple, the little tiger will take away your bad luck! This is why many small tigers are placed around Bishamondō.

Next to where the brand-new Migawari-tora figures are a couple of permanent markers. Write your name and what bad luck you want the tiger to take from you before placing it close to the worship hall.

While you might laugh at the idea, there was an examinee who wrote “failing the exam” on the tiger and passed the exam.

Tamon-in’s Peony and Autumn Foliage Season

  • More than 300 peonies usually bloom from late April to early May.
  • Tamon-in’s autumn foliage season is from early November to early December.

Tamon-in’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Tamon-in is open from 7 am to 5 pm.
  • Getting to Tamon-in isn’t straight forward. From Seibu’s Kōkūkōen Station (航空公園駅) east exit, take Tokoro Bus (Tokorozawa’s Community Bus) North Route – Tomioka Loop Course (北路線 富岡循環コース) and get off at Tamon-in. The temple is then a 5-minute walk.

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