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The Super Lucky Cat Has Its Own Buddhist Temple

[Top photo: Chabo 100]
[Top photo: Chabo 100]
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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?

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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.

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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.

[Photo: Chabo 100]
[Photo: Chabo 100]

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:

[Photo: Nakamuranao]
[Photo: Nakamuranao]
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[Photo: I Love Tiny]
[Photo: I Love Tiny]
[Photo: nurariuchida]
[Photo: nurariuchida]
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[Photo: nurariuchida]
[Photo: nurariuchida]
[Photo: 1000Roku]
[Photo: 1000Roku]
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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]

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

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Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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DISCUSSION

Ivan Moore Bacon Wright II

I just realized that I really want one of these.

I remember the first time I ever saw a Maneki Neko. It was in a video game, of course; Legend of the Mystical Ninja, which I later came to understand was a localization of a Goemon game (whoever that is... he'll always be Kid Ying to me). They were used as weapon upgrade power-ups.

It was a bit like a SNES version of River City Ransom, but set in feudal Japan. I used to love that game.