Gotokuji Temple – the Spiritual Home of Maneki Neko

Like cats and temples? This one's for you. Gotokuji Shrine is the spiritual home of Maneki Neko, the famous pawing cat.

Owing to the multitude of cat statuettes littered around, cries of “kawaii!” are a commonplace sound at Gotokuji Temple. Unlike most, this temple is dedicated to animals, especially cats, marking it out from the majority of other Tokyo temples. Maneki Neko (literally “beckoning cat”), the form most of the cats take, are seen as good luck charms and are treasured as such. 

Gotokuji Shrine Overview

Gotokuji Shrine Photo Credit: Joe Jones via Flickr cc

Gotokuji Shrine Photo Credit: Joe Jones via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: celiaintokyo via Flickr cc

Gotokuji garden Photo Credit: celiaintokyo via Flickr cc

The temple consists of several buildings including a main pavilion, a pagoda, a cemetery and even a gift shop filled with, you guessed it, Maneki Neko. Overall, the complex is a welcome change of pace from lightening fast Tokyo. 

Cat Ema Photo Credit: chinnian via Flickr cc

Cat Ema Photo Credit: chinnian via Flickr cc

Origins of Maneki-Neko

Photo Credit: Senna Chanel via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Senna Chanel via Flickr cc

There are several versions as to how Maneki Neko came about, but what is common to them all is a benevolent cat. The most popular story stems from the early 17th century. A monk at a small, poor temple in Setagaya lived with a cat named Tama. One night, Lord Naotaka and a band of samurai, fresh from victory at the Siege of Osaka, took shelter from a storm under a tree opposite the temple. The lord noticed Tama sitting in the temple’s entranceway. With a raised paw, Tama seemed to be beckoning the lord. Obliging, the lord walked towards Tama and just as soon as he did, lightning struck the tree, turning it to ashes and killing those underneath. The lord was certain the cat had saved his life and repaid the favor with generous donations to the temple. As the story spread, Tama, complete with beckoning paw, became a much-loved figure of mercy and good luck throughout the nation.

Map

Address:  2 Chome-24-7 Gotokuji, Setagaya, Tokyo 154-0021

Telephone: +81 03-3426-1437

Getting to Gotokuji Shrine 

Twelve minutes on foot from Gotokuji Station on the Odakyu Line.

Gotokuji Station Photo Credit: By Ogiyoshisan [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Gotokuji Station Photo Credit: Ogiyoshisan [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Alternatively, take the tram to Miyanosaka Station. Eight minutes on food from here. 

Miyanosawa Station Photo Credit: Chuoterminal_02  [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Miyanosawa Station Photo Credit: Chuoterminal_02 [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Visitor Information

Duration of Visit

Half a day.

Dates and Time

Open all year, 9am to 5pm. 

Price

Free.

Ines Smaili

Ines Smaili

Hi, I'm Inès, I love to travel all around the world especially in Japan, I will share with you all the information needed to have the best trip of your life!



Related travel categories

# Things to Do in Tokyo # Things to Do in Japan

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