I fondly call it the “Neko Temple” as it’s easier for me to remember. Tehee. Gotokuji Temple is a buddhist temple in Setagaya District that is believed to be the birthplace of the lucky charm, maneki neko, that brings good luck to its owner.
As per the folklore, during the Edo period, a cat under the care of a priest at Gotokuji Temple led a feudal lord to safety during a thunderstorm. The cat invited the lord and his servants inside with a waving gesture—explaining why all maneki-neko statues have one paw raised. The lord sipped tea with the priest while the thunderstorm seethed outside. To show his gratitude, he donated rice and land and selected Gotokuji Temple as the cemetery for his prominent family.
Hundreds of lucky neko figures around the statue of the goddess of mercy, Kannon will greet the temple’s visitors. The main building and entire compound have cats all over, while the streets surrounding the temple is adorned with cat art.
I visited during autumn when most of the maple leaves were in hues of yellow, red and orange as you walk inside the temple. Also a three tier pagoda on the left is hard to miss.
Gotokuji Temple is at 2-chōme-24-７ Gōtokuji, Setagaya City, Tōkyō-to 154-0021, Japan or 〒154-0021 東京都世田谷区豪徳寺２丁目２４−７. The temple is about 10-15 minute walk from Gotokuji station.