Cats, cats, cats! At [Gotokuji temple]
February 22 is National Cat day in Japan. It originates from the number 2, pronounced as “ni”, since it sounds similar to the cry of a cat, often imitated as “Nyah” in Japanese.
Today, let us introduce “maneki-neko”, a common Japanese figurine of a cat.
The figurine depicts a cat beckoning with an upright paw, which is believed to bring good luck to the owner. It is also common for business owners to display them in stores, restaurants or offices hoping to increase the amount of business. There are numerous types of maneki-neko all over the country, and there are various meanings to each.
Gotokuji temple is one of the birthplaces of maneki-neko. About a 4 minute ride from Shimokitazawa station on the Odakyu line, you will reach “Gotokuji station” from which you can walk to Gotokuji temple.
Here is the maneki-neko history of Gotokuji temple: One day, a feudal lord who was famous in the 1600s, coincidently walked by the temple, and he saw a cat that looked as if it is beckoning him to come in. The lord decided to stop by and follow the cat, and soon after a thunderstorm began, and thanks to the cat he could avoid the storm as well as hear a sermon of Buddhist teachings.
Eventually, the lord collected funds to rebuild Gotokuji temple, which was not so rich at the time. The priest was thankful for the deeds of the cat, and started to worship it as a figurine.
You might be astonished to see the “Shofuku-den”, filled with numerous maneki-nekos. This has been a place where people get a maneki-neko and take it back to their home with their wish, then they come to this place to give it back, once their wish comes true. How about spending Cat day surrounded by the numerous maneki-neko who made peoples wishes come true? They should bring good luck to you as well.