Do you know there is a cat temple in Tokyo? The cat, Maneki Neko is not a pet, it is a symbol of luck or good fortune in Japan. I am sure you have ever seen or heard about a cat with red collar and gold-color bell beckoning its right paw somewhere, maybe on TV, Internet or at an entrance of some shops/restaurants you passed by in Japan.
But the number of Maneki Neko cats at Gokoku-ji Temple is much more than what you can count!
Gotoku-ji is a temple located in Setagaya ward, famous for thousands of lucky cat statue with different sizes. To get to the main gate, you will pass through a shopping street with some symbols of cat also. The street looks quite peaceful with many kinds of cat art!
Here we are at the main gate of Gokoku-ji Temple. Its complex is quite large and full of green trees.
Just turn the corner and you will see a family of cats are waving at you! It looks like a father and a mother with their children. All of them are raising the right paw.
Not only this family of cat, you can see thousands of cats with different sizes right behind!
They are so cute, but remember that they are not your toys! Visitors treat them with high respect and refrain themselves from touching. You can see many people visit Gokoku-ji to pray and hope their wish will come true.
Let me tell you about the legend of this cat. One day when the Lord (Daimyo) Ii Naotaka (1590-1659) was on the way back home, it started raining hard. He stopped at a tree near the temple to hide from the rain and saw a cat was raising its right paw as if it wanted to say something to him. He came closer to the cat. Suddenly a thunderstorm struck the tree where he had been standing by. Thanks to the cat, the lord’s life was saved. For that reason, people strongly believe that Maneki Neko cat brings luck and good fortune to the owner.
People visit the temple then buy one Maneki Neko cat statue and take home to pray. When their wish comes true, they bring the cat back to the temple. That’s why you see many here. Do you want to add one Maneki Neko cat into the temple’s collection?
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