You’ve might have seen the super lucky cat in restaurants and shops. But did you know the cat has its own temple in Tokyo?
In Japanese, the lucky cat is called “maneki neko” (招き猫) or “beckoning cat.” Japanese in origin, some Westerners think the cat is waving good-bye. However, it is making the Japanese gesture for “come here” and is beckoning customers to enter an establishment.
Gotokuji Temple (豪徳寺) in Tokyo is filled with maneki neko statues. As the Japan National Tourism Organization explains, the temple has an interesting origin story: During the Edo Period (1603 to 1867), a feudal lord was on his way home from falconry when he saw the temple’s cat beckoning him to enter the temple.
Suddenly, there was a thunderstorm, which the lord avoided thanks to the cat. Thankful, the lord decided to rebuild the neglected temple. When the cat died, a temple for the animal was built on the grounds, and the animal was enshrined as a god called Shobyo Kannon. The Japanese Tourism Organization adds that visitors began offering Maneki Neko statues as a gesture of gratitude after their wishes became reality.
The temple isn’t only cats. Japanese blogger Chabo 100 noted that his grandparents’ grave is also located at Gotokuji Temple (note: it’s probably not located among the cat statues, but in a different section of the temple’s grounds).
Below, you can see more photos of the temple:
If you are interested in visiting the Gotokuji Temple, the Japanese Tourism Organization has directions to get there.
This article was originally published on April 3, 2014.
豪徳寺の招き猫 [Chabo 100]
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