Tokyo tourism: Gotokuji Buddhist Temple, cats, and legend of Maneki Neko

Tokyo tourism: Gotokuji Buddhist Temple, cats, and legend of Maneki Neko

Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

If you feel like quiet spiritual contemplation and you have any type of connection with cats, then Gotokuji Buddhist Temple in Tokyo is a great place to visit. This concerns the historical importance of this Buddhist temple and compound – and the modern-day attraction of cat lovers connected to Maneki Neko “beckoning cats.”

Indeed, for people who have lost cats based on death – or whose cat is blighted by poor health – then many individuals pray either for the souls of dead cats or for fighting health in this life. Thus a spiritual dimension applies to Buddhists naturally visiting this temple compound and concerning more secular-minded people who are attracted by the cat angle.

According to legend, the feudal lord Li Naotaka (1590-1659) was beckoned by a cat to come inside and take shelter. Shortly after, a terrible thunderstorm struck the tree that Li Naotaka had previously taken shelter. Thus the cat was perceived to be behind his good fortune. Henceforth, the feudal lord became the patron of the temple. Therefore, the enshrinement of Maneki Neko began after the death of this lucky cat.

In modern times, this connects with various angles – including historical, kawaii culture, people who adore cats, lovers of Maneki Neko, people who seek good fortune, the spiritual realm, and other factors.

Lee Jay Walker says, “Of course, the Buddhist religious angle is the unifying theme during your visit to the Gotokuji Buddhist Temple irrespective of Buddhist, paying respect to past family members buried in the graveyard, from a different faith group, or you are secular-minded. Similarly, for cat lovers and people fascinated by the history surrounding Maneki Neko, the Buddhist compound fuses naturally with respective people visiting this unique holy place.”

For people wishing to visit this fascinating Buddhist temple and compound in Tokyo, then individuals can get a train to Gotokuji Station via the Odakyu Line and walk for roughly 12 minutes. Or it is a shorter walk away from the Miyanosaka Station if you travel on the Tokyu Setagaya Line.

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