The main temple is guarded by two Tiger statues. Generally most of the temples are guarded by dog statues, but Kurama Temple has Tigers because of the temple’s special association to the Tiger. The history of Mt. Kurama begins with Bishamonten saving one of the monk from the devil on a Tiger month, Tiger Day, and Tiger hour. Tiger is considered a messenger for the Bishamonten at the Mt. Kurama. Back in 770AD when that happened, Japan was using animals to address month, days, and hour just like Chinese zordiac sign.
The right tiger’s mouth is open in a shape to pronounce “A” and that signifies the beginning of everything. The left tiger’s mouth is closed in a shape to pronounce “UN” and that signifies the end of everything. So, these are called A-UN tigers and represent everything in the universe from the beginning to the end.
Personally, I am born on a year of the Tiger, so I have an affinity with them. So, I loved reading this little Tiger themed Kurama temple history.
In case you are wondering what time Tiger hour is, it’s about 3-5am. Tiger Month is January and Tiger day comes up every 12 days. Coincidentally, today Oct 11 2007 is the Tiger day.