Discovering fascinating felines around Gotokuji, Tokyo’s ‘Maneki Neko Town’

Maneki neko, or ‘beckoning cats’ are lucky charms that can be seen in shops and restaurants throughout Japan. With their paws raised invitingly, it’s hoped that they bring in customers and money to a business. A 10-minute walk from Gotokuji Station on the Odakyu line, you’ll find a temple where the legend of the maneki neko is said to have originated from. You can discover many cute cats not just at the temple, but also in shops in the local area. Let me introduce a couple of my favorites.

2016-11-25 Alex Brown   Destinations, Tokyo,

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Greet over 4,000 maneki neko figurines at Gotokuji

Gotokuji temple

There are over 4,000 maneki neko displayed at the Gotokuji temple, but why is it considered the birthplace of the ‘beckoning cat’? The story goes that during the Edo period, a rich and important lord was passing by, when a cat seemed to beckon him inside. He entered and was greeted by the chief priest who served him tea. A terrible thunderstorm soon broke out, and grateful to the priest and the cat for helping him avoid the storm, the lord donated money and land. His family became closely associated with the temple which grew in fame and prosperity.

Countless maneki neko beckon you in.
Countless maneki neko beckon you in.

On the grounds of Gotokuji temple is the Shofuku shrine (招福殿), where a seemingly limitless number of maneki neko have been placed. These have all been returned by their owners whose prayers have been answered. It’s said by doing this, they can benefit even more. With over 4,000 plus figurines already returned, it seems a lot of wishes have come true.

With a refreshing, peaceful atmosphere that almost makes you forget you’re in Tokyo, the area around Gotokuji is the perfect place to come when you want to calm your spirit and rejuvenate yourself.

Gotokuji Temple

Maneki neko style Japanese sweets too cute to eat!

Discover cat shaped Japanese sweets at Touhiken.
Discover cat shaped Japanese sweets at Touhiken.

My first recommendation is Touhiken (東肥軒), where you can buy cute maneki neko Japanese sweets.
Inheriting its’ name from the original Touhiken established in 1877 in the Jinbōchō area of Tokyo, this long-standing store opened in 1959, and takes the flavor of its traditionally hand-made products very seriously.

Maneki neko style confectionery.
Maneki neko style confectionery.

Among the various classic Japanese cakes and biscuits, the ones shaped like maneki neko are so adorable it’s a shame to actually eat them.
It seems they are very popular as souvenirs for overseas tourists too, which made me see these cute cats in a new light as a symbol of Japan.

Inside the shop there are maneki neko everywhere.
Inside the shop there are maneki neko everywhere.

All sorts of maneki neko line the shop window and counter display, in a store that continues to be loved by local people as well as sightseers.
Delicious to eat, and they may even bring you good luck, you must try the sweets at Touhiken.

Touhiken (東肥軒)

  • Address:1-38-7 Gotokuji, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo.
  • Opening hours:9:30am-7pm (closed Sundays and some irregular days, see website).
  • Telephone:03-3420-1925.
  • Websitehttp://www.kurufuku.jp/index.html(Japanese text only)


Carefully selected cat products.
Carefully selected cat products.

A shop crammed with cat themed knick-knacks, which will you choose?

At Tokyo Neko Nakama (Tokyo Cat Pals) the cat loving staff sell all kinds of feline themed miscellaneous goods. You’ll be surprised at the sheer number of products inside.
The shop is stacked with everything from cards, stationary, and stuffed toys, to fashion accessories. Just browsing is great fun.

Original one-of-a-kind cat themed goods.
Original one-of-a-kind cat themed goods.

Also available are many original works by artists and craftsmen. All carefully and delicately made, with a devotion you can feel when you hold them in your own hands.

Cat photos on display.
Cat photos on display.

Photos taken by ordinary people of their cats are also exhibited in the shop. Each picture is filled with such charm, they make you feel happy inside just looking at them.
Special events may also take place at other venues that are well worth a visit (see below and check website for details, in Japanese only).

Tokyo Neko Nakama Event Information:‘Everybody’s Cat’ Photography Show in Kagurazaka (神楽坂)

  • Dates:Friday 25th November to Tuesday 29th November.
  • Time:11am-6pm (until 1pm on last day).
  • Address:Art Space K2 Kagurazaka, 2-11 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo.
  • Opening hours:11am-6pm (closed Tuesdays, and some irregular days, see website).
  • Telephone:
  • Websitehttp://nekonakama.com/(Japanese text only)
Tokyo Neko Nakama (東京ねこなかま)

  • Address:1-50-17 Gotokuji, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo.
  • Opening hours:11am-6pm (closed Tuesdays, and some irregular days, see website).
  • Telephone:080-5383-8742.
  • Websitehttp://nekonakama.com/(Japanese text only)



Cats even on an electricity pole.
Cats even on an electricity pole.

Gotokuji is a town filled with cats. Stroll around, shop, eat, there are many ways to enjoy the area. Come and visit and maybe you can find your favorite cat at Gotokuji!

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AUTHOR

yumoka

yumoka

Writer

I have experience studying abroad in Germany and traveled 17 countries before. Love Korean food, Love Astronaut, Love Croatia. I will send everyone exciting information of Japan! Enjoy it!