Gotokuji - Tokyo's Manekineko Lucky Cat Temple

Bring your lucky cat back to Gotokuji after it has granted your wish

Gotokuji is a lovely old neighbourhood in Tokyo's Setagaya ward. Gotokuji temple is the home of the Japanese good luck cats called "manekineko". One is waiting for you in front of Gotokuji station.

Go from the station towards Gotokuji temple and you pass through a Japanese style "shotengai" street with many small old shops. Some of them look like they opened 100 years ago. You can find Japanese sweets, ramen, used books, and a sento bath. On some days you can meet the mascot of the shotengai. Of course it is a cat.

The temple is less than 10 minutes away. There are two especially interesting places on the temple grounds, the corner for the lucky cats and a cemetery with graves of one of the old ruling families. The cats you see here in Gotokuji's manekineko corner are the truly lucky cats. These cats have fulfilled their tasks and brought good luck to their owners. Then they were brought back here to retire and rest.

Most people who had their wish granted use the opportunity to buy a new and probably bigger and stronger manekineko when they are at the temple. You can buy the cat statues in different sizes, the smallest size is called "mame" because it is the size of a bean. The bigger versions are numbered and big cats are for big wishes.

Check out the Gotokuji neighbourhood and the local Setagaya line train

You can reach Gotokuji on the Odakyu line or the tiny Setagaya line. This must be the smallest train in the Tokyo area. On the Odakyu train the station name is Gotokuji like the temple, but on the Setagaya line it is Yamashita. The stations are located right next to each other with only a few small shops between them.

Take the Setagaya line and you will see a different side of Tokyo. The train passes very close to residential buildings and local shops, the train stations are minimal, and sometimes the train has to wait at an intersection for cars to cross. The different trains have different colours - I remember seeing a red, blue, green, and a yellow train. Maybe you see one in another color.

by David

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