鉄子も歴女も猫好きも、招き猫だらけの【豪徳寺】に集合!! – Gathering at the maneko-neko-filled Gotoku TempleGathering at the maneko-neko-filled Gotoku Temple
【Writer】Tokyo de Asobo:YoshidaWalking for ten minutes from Gotokuji Station in Setagaya City, I find myself at the large, splendid Gotoku Temple.
I first make my way inside the large compound and towards the maneki-neko-dou, a ‘lucky cat’ shrine.
The maneki-neko are all lined up in rows. There is a custom where maneki-neko are returned to the shrine if they have granted someone’s wish, so the ones lined up now are the ones that have granted wishes from January 1 this year.
Following having your original wish come true, it is said that if you return the maneki-neko to the small shrine to the side, you will receive an additional blessing. It’s only halfway through the year but there are so many! It really looks like these maneki-neko work!
There are varying opinions on the origin of maneki-neko, but the famous of them is perhaps the Gotoku Temple story.
While I investigated the maneki-neko, an elderly gentleman wandered over and began to tell me various things about them.
One of the stories he told me was from the Edo period.
After having gone out to do some falconry, military commanders happened to pass by the front of Gotoku Temple, when the temple’s white cat beckoned to them from the gate.
With the cat’s invitation, the commanders decided to visit the temple. As they did, a thunderstorm began.
In those days, Gotoku Temple was lacking funds and in a decrepit state. Despite this, the high priest invited the commanders in for tea, where he proceeded to give a sermon. Due to the magnificence of the sermon and the refuge that the commanders received from the storm, one of the commanders adopted the Gotoku Temple as his family’s bodaiji (ancestral temple). He also gave a large sum of money for the temple to be rebuilt to a more admirable state.
One of those commanders who had escaped the storm was the second feudal lord of the Hikone Domain, Ii Naotaka (if you’re Japanese, you would have learnt this from a textbook). He was a descendant of Ii Naosuke who was assassinated in the Sakuradamon Incident during Bakumatsu, the end of the Tokugawa shogunate.
Gotoku Temple has been the gravesite of the Ii family for generations, so it’s only natural Ii Naosuke’s grave is here, too.
Hikonyan was modelled after the maneki-neko here at Gotoku Temple.
The priest built a grave to commemorate the cat after it died. Afterwards, the small maneki-neko shrine was built, and the maneki-neko was created based on the figure of a cat with one of its paws raised.
The maneki-neko here all beckon visitors with their right paws. By doing so with their right paws, they are calling for economic prosperity; when they beckon with their left paws, they’re gesturing for people to enter. In reality, the right paw has nothing to do with money; in Buddhism the right hand is important, which may be why the cat’s right paw is raised.
If you look carefully, there are differences in the cats’ expressions seemingly dependent on the era.
Such changes can be seen in their thickening eyebrows, and their increasingly large black eyes. Little by little, their expressions differ, making it seem as if they were alive.
More details on the origin of maneki-neko can be found here: Wikipedia
The elderly gentleman told me many more things but I’ll leave that for another time.
These maneki-neko cats are available for purchase from the main building. The large ones cost 5,000
yen. I bought the small 500 yen maneki-neko.
Not only does this temple have maneki-neko, but it also has history. You can also enjoy the greenery in summer, and the changing colours of the leaves in autumn.
Gotoku Temple is actually close to Miyanosaka Station. Trams in Tokyo run few and far between, so I highly recommend taking your time visiting Gotoku Temple via the Setagaya Line.
〒154-0021 Tokyo-kyou Setagaya-ku Gotoku-ji 2-24-7
Open from 9 am to 5 pm
【Writer】Tokyo de Asobo:Yoshida