Travel Report: The Cat Waving Temple (Gotokuji Temple), Tokyo.

Cat army Gotokuji Temple Cat Waving Temple Tokyo.

Reading from China? This Travel Report contains a YouTube video, which can only be viewed with a VPN!

February 2019. Tucked away in a peaceful, leafy Tokyo neighborhood, in many ways Gotokuji Temple is an entirely ordinary little compound. In fact, at first glance there’s literally nothing to distinguish it from any of the other billion and one bog standard temples scattered around Asia. And yet Gotokuji continues to draw in thousands of dedicated visitors every year thanks to one pretty extraordinary corner that stands in tribute to a much-loved ancient Japanese legend. Yup, for many this is the Cat Waving Temple.

Cat Waving Temple Gotokuji Temple Tokyo.
The Cat Waving Temple (Gotokuji Temple), Tokyo.
The Cat Waving Temple Gotokuji Temple Tokyo.
The Cat Waving Temple (Gotokuji Temple), Tokyo.

February 2019. There are several versions of the old legend about Gotokuji Temple and its Cat Waving origins. The one I like is that back in the Edo Period there was a resident priest who kept a wise old cat. One day a feudal lord and his servants were passing by on their way into town when a violent thunderstorm broke out. Seeing that they were in distress, the cat ran over and waved them inside where the priest helped them to get dry before offering food and drink. The lord was so grateful he invested money in the temple and donated crops. And so Gotokuji suddenly found itself elevated in both prosperity and reputation.

Gotokuji Temple Cat Waving Temple Tokyo.
The Cat Waving Temple (Gotokuji Temple), Tokyo.

February 2019. Waving cat ornaments are hugely popular in Asia. I’ve seen them all over the place from my travels around China, Cambodia and Malaysia to SingaporeSouth Korea and Thailand. But I’d never known where the Cat Waving thing (known as Maneki Neko) actually came from.

The Cat Waving Shop Gotokuji Temple Tokyo.
The Cat Waving Temple (Gotokuji Temple), Tokyo.

February 2019. There’s a little Cat Waving shop in the grounds of Gotokuji Temple and many people who come here head inside to purchase a cat of their own. You can either take it home as a memento or add it to the temple’s huge collection.

Prayer tablets The Cat Waving Temple Tokyo.
The Cat Waving Temple (Gotokuji Temple), Tokyo.

There are also cat-decorated wooden prayer tablets available. You’ll see a large board of them and its fun to flip through all the various messages written in black marker.

Gotokuji Cemetery Cat Waving Temple Tokyo.
The cemetery at Cat Waving Temple (Gotokuji Temple).
The cemetery at Cat Waving Temple Gotokuji Temple Tokyo.
The cemetery at Cat Waving Temple (Gotokuji Temple).

February 2019. Away from all the Cat Waving euphoria Gotokuji Temple also has a large, mostly ignored cemetery. It’s a somewhat wild and unloved graveyard that in all honesty looked pretty grim on that chilly February morning. Still, it was worth a wander and good for a bit of reflection as I approached the last few days of my Tokyo trip.

Cat Waving Temple Gotokuji Temple Tokyo.
Cat Waving Temple (Gotokuji Temple), Tokyo.

Tokyo’s Cat Waving Temple is just a 10-minite walk from Gotokuji Station on the Odakyu Line. The temple is free to enter and opens daily from 06:00-17:00, though the souvenir shop has reduced availability from 08:00-16:30.

Like this? Check out my extensive library of location reports from across the city, with articles on What To See and do In Tokyo, Tokyo’s Amazing Themed Cafes, Bars & Restaurants, Other Cool Places To Eat & Drink In Tokyo, The Tokyo Subway, Trains & Electric Lines and Where To Stay In Tokyo.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001, so why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Literature Travel blogger Travel reports short stories

Posted by

Freelance travel writer, voice over and English teacher from London. Former music and film journalist, interviewer of the stars. Passionate about travel, film, music, football, Indian food.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.