As a cat lover, when I visited Tokyo I had to see the famous temple holding hundreds of lucky cat statues. It was quite easy to access from the city and the surrounding area was quaint and full of cat motifs. Supposedly this is where the idea of the lucky cat originated. Legend tells of a cat that guided a lord to safety in this very building during a harsh thunderstorm. There are some competing theories. Some say the lucky cat came from Kyoto or is a creation from a Chinese proverb (source)
Whether it’s the legitimate birthplace of the maneki neko or not, Gotokuji Temple is an interesting and serene spot to visit as a tourist. It brings you far away from the hustle and bustle of city life in Tokyo. Gotokuji temple doesn’t get anywhere near as much footfall as other famous religious spots in the region such as Meiji Jingu or Sensoji so it’s a nice spot to explore this aspect of the culture at your own pace.
The surrounding suburb contains lots of little shops and cafes, many with cat-themed decor. You can easily spend half a day here and get a bite to eat. The streets themselves have plenty of cute cat art. Even electricity polls are decorated with paw prints. I’ve shared some of my favorite photos from the day in the small gallery below.