The Gotokuji Temple in Tokoy’s Setagaya district, is said to be the birthplace of ‘The Lucky Waving Cat’ or Maneki-neko (beckoning cat). It’s incredibly pretty, and quieter than some of the more central Tokyo temples. You will also find more Maneki-neko there than anywhere else, hundreds or maybe even thousands of them, which is a sight to behold.
The Maneki-neko has, over time, become a worldwide symbol of luck, especially prevalent in businesses representing luck and prosperity. Whilst it is often seen as originating in China, it’s believed it actually came from Japan.
Although there are many stories of the origins this is widely believed to be its true birthplace. Back in the Edo period, the ‘temple’ was very poor, inhabited by a monk and his cat. One day, a feudal Lord and his Samurai were passing by the temple. He saw a cat who beckoned them to come inside. They did so, and just as they took shelter a huge thunderstorm broke. The lord was so thankful of the cat’s deed that he then had the temple rebuild, and the monk and the cat were rewarded by the lord taking patronage of the temple.
Even now, people visit the temple to offer Maeki-neko figurines to the temple as a sign of gratitude.