Gotokuji Temple, The Birthplace of the Legendary Lucky “Maneki-Neko” Cat
This shrine is famous as the birthplace of the legendary lucky cat maneki-neko
28 Sep 2019
Legendary lucky cat maneki-neko at Gotokuji temple, Tokyo.
Legendary lucky cat maneki-neko at Gotokuji temple, Tokyo.

Gotokuji, a Buddhist temple in Tokyo's Setagaya district, is famous for being the birthplace of the legendary lucky cat maneki-neko.

Legend has it that during the Edo period, the last era of traditional Japanese rule, a cat belonging to the priest at Gotokuji Temple led the daimyo (landlord) to safety during a thunderstorm. The cat beckoned the master and his servants by waving his hand.

The master then stopped by the temple to enjoy tea with the priest. Not long after, there was a violent storm raging outside. The landlord is grateful for being spared the storm and thinks the cat is the one who brings good luck. To thank him afterwards, he donated rice and land and chose Gotokuji Temple as the burial place for his family.

Maneki-neko at Gotokuji temple, Tokyo
Maneki-neko at Gotokuji temple, Tokyo
This legendary cat was born in the Gotokuji temple
This legendary cat was born in the Gotokuji temple

Visitors can see hundreds of lucky cats on display around the statue of the goddess of forgiveness, Kannon. The main shrine building and grounds are filled with cats, while works of art related to cats decorate the streets around the shrine.

Gotokuji is easily accessible from downtown Tokyo. From Shinjuku station, take the Odakyu line in the direction of Hon-Atsugi directly to Gotokuji station, about 30 minutes ride. The shrine is less than a five-minute walk from Gotokuji station. Gotokuji Temple is open daily from 6am to 6pm. Free admission.

Gotokuji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Gotokuji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

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