Gotokuji Temple, located in the Setagaya ward of Tokyo, is a Buddhist temple that is said to be the birthplace of the maneki-neko, or “luck-inviting cat figurine.”
These small statues, which portray a cat sitting up and beckoning with its front paw, have become quite popular all over the world with cat-lovers.
Although there are many different kinds of maneki-neko raising either their right or left paws, Gotokuji Temple specializes in the right-pawed version of this good-luck symbol.

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The legend behind Gotokuji Temple

Temple legend states that during the early 17th century, Ii Naotaka (then the second lord of the Omi-Hikone Domain) escaped from being caught in a sudden thunderstorm after being invited inside the temple by a cat that lived there.
To show his gratitude to the cat, Naotaka decided to dedicate the temple to the Ii clan. After Naotaka passed away, the temple was renamed to Gotokuji, from his posthumous Buddhist name “Kyushoin-den Gotokuten ei-daikoji.”

The cat that created that opportunity for the temple to grow into a respectable and important place was deified as “Fortune-Inviting Kannon.”
The cat was later said to bring good fortune, being called “shou-fuku byou-ji” or “maneki-neko.” Gotokuji Temple has been filled with lucky cat figurines donated by worshippers ever since.

Where is Gotokuji Temple?

Gotokuji is a quiet temple located outside the noisy center of Tokyo and is the perfect stop for any cat-lover interested in Japanese culture and history.
The staff at Gotokuji Temple are also friendly and welcoming. Even with a language barrier, English speakers will find it easy to learn the story of Fortune-Inviting Kannon and enjoy their time at this marvelous temple.

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The land of a thousand cats! It might not be a thousand exactly, but in Japan, these famous waving cats are known as "maneki-neko" meaning "beckoning cat". They're said to beckon or invite in good luck, so this place must be crazy lucky! More info ???? ???? Gotokuji Temple . . . #japanvirtualtrip #japantravel #tokyotravel #manekineko #招き猫 #GotokujiTemple #tokyo #tokyotemple #cattemple #luckycat

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Inside the temple, visitors can purchase omikuji (Japanese fortunes) and cat figurines in a wide variety of sizes. Omikuji are always fun to get when visiting a temple; for those who cannot read Japanese, the staff can help by telling you if you received a good (大吉) or bad (大凶) fortune.
If it’s good, keep it! If not, you can tie the fortune to the branch of the tree near and just outside of the reception area and leave your bad luck behind.

Visitors to Gotokuji will often buy a cat figurine, make a wish or prayer for good luck on it, and then leave it at the temple.
However, it is also possible to take the cat figurine home and keep it until the wish or prayer is fulfilled. Afterwards, it is advised to make a return trip to Gotokuji and then place the cat figurine at the temple to give thanks.

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The cats themselves are…

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