|The Statue of of Amitabha Tathagata and Jizo, Guardian of Children|
The spiritual enlightenment that Sakyamuni (Buddha) experienced is called the Way. The Way cannot be taught as having physical properties. In the course of time Shakamuni entered Nirvana as a Nyorai, or fully enlightened being. Sakyamuni is the principal focus of Shingon Buddhism, where he is called Hosshin Dainichi Nyorai. Amitabha is the name of the historical Buddha in India; the Japanese rendition is a transliteration of Amitaayusu (Amitabha). China calls him the Muryoju (Muryoko) Nyorai to express the concept of limitless time and space without end. This Nyorai is a designated cultural property of the Sumida Ward and dates from the fourth year of the Kambun era (1664). Jizo, Child-giving Jizo, stands beside him.
|The Temple Gate |
Today one rarely sees a thatched temple gate. Built by Ryoken, the second-generation head priest, in the second year of the Keian era (1649), the gate was destroyed by fire in the third year of the Kyoho era (1718) and rebuilt in the same year. More than 280 years old, the gate is the oldest structure in the Sumida Ward.
|The Statue of the Main Deity, Bishamonten |
Tamon Temple is dedicated to Bishamonten. Attributed to Kobo Daishi, this wooden figure is 50cm tall and has the distinctive characteristics of the Kamakura period. Bishamonten is also known as Tamonten. In Hindu mythology he is Kubera, the god of wealth, and he forms a single entity with the other three heavenly kings: Jikokuten, Zochoten and Komokuten. This heroic figure sees to the heart of all things and has the courage to defend wisdom and truth.
|The Statue of Kannon, Buddhist Deity of Mercy|
Facing the main temple, you will see a statue of Kannon in the garden on your left. This image of Kannon was placed here in 1984 by temple supporters to express their gratitude and support on the occasion of the 1150th anniversary of the death of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. The figure reminds us that humans make weapons and amass armaments to kill other humans, so we who are part of mankind must eliminate weapons and create a world without war.
|The Tanuki (Racoon Dog) Mound|
Once upon a time, there was a large pond near the Tamon Temple with lots of trees and luxuriant grasses. This was the home of mischievous tanukis and foxes, who loved to play practical jokes on the villagers and travelers. Master Bankai, a Buddhist priest, decided to build a shrine and drive out the tanukis and their supernatural powers. First he chopped down a huge pine tree and covered up their burrow and then he filled in the pond. The earth rumbled and dirt fell from the sky and Master Bankai knelt before Bishamonten in continuous prayer.
One night a giant monster with a clean-shaven head rose up in front of him and cried: “This is my land. You must leave!” As Master Bankai intently prayed to Bishamonten, a child who served the deity appeared and beat up the monster. The following day, two huge tanukis were found dead in the garden.
The master was deeply moved and buried the tanukis near the roots of the pine tree that he had felled.
He raised a mound of earth over their bodies and appeased their souls. This is the origin of the tanuki mound.
|Monument to the Seven Lucky Gods of the Sumida River |
The inscription on this fieldstone monument shows the calligraphy of Takeaki Enomoto, a Naval admiral who fought against the new Meiji government at the Goryokaku (Five-Sided Fortress) in the Boshin War (1868-69)
Enomoto was born and bred in Edo (Tokyo) and loved most of all to stroll along the Sumida River, where he is said to have visited Tamon Temple and have written a poem. The face of the monument is inscribed, “Bishamonten, one of the seven lucky gods of the Sumida River, by Viscount Takeaki Enomoto, Senior Grade, Second Court Rank.”
|Lord Jizo of the Six States of Existence |
These are called the “Six Seated Images of Jizo.” The figures are very unusual, even for Tokyo. This Jizo is thought to reach out the hand of salvation to everyone on the six paths of Buddhism through which the soul must pass: hell, starvation, beasts, carnage, human beings and heavenly beings.