One of the highlights of my trip to Japan last summer was Gotokuji Temple, the famous “cat shrine” in Tokyo’s Setagaya suburb.
Gotokuji is home to thousands of statues of maneki-neko, or “beckoning cat,” an important and ubiquitous image in Japan: Statues of maneki-neko adorn shops and virtually every public place in Tokyo, but Gotokuji is where the legend of the beckoning cat was born. Visitors write prayers on the statues and ask for good luck for a variety of venture, from opening new businesses to getting married.
There is, however, only one current feline resident at Gotokuji, while Kyoto’s Nyan Nyan Ji — literally “meow meow shrine” — is populated exclusively by feline “monks,” who wear monkly garb and take their duties — especially napping, er, meditating — very seriously.
The most recognizable of them is Koyuki, the chief cat priestess at Nyan Nyan Ji.
Here are some photos, all courtesy of the temple’s Instagram, showing what life is like for Koyuki and her fellow priests:
The young French girl placed her most precious items in an elaborately decorated antique box — among them a personal letter, old coins, a sea shell, a compass and two glass negatives.
French photographer Matheiu Stern, who discovered the accidental time capsule earlier this year, used a vintage technique to develop the plates and reveal the images they contained: A photo of a small tabby cat posing on a door step, and another of the same tabby with a kitten and a gentle-looking dog.
The process Matheiu used is called cyanotype, and as its name implies, it renders everything in a blueish scale rather than grayscale or color. The process was popular for most of the 19th century before it gave way to newer and more accurate photography methods, but it was used long after that as a cheap method of reproducing architectural schematics, thus the name “blueprints.”
The photographs have the unmistakable hue of the process used to develop them, and show the people of the 19th century bonded with their cats just as we do.
They also prove that people have always loved taking photos of cats, and the ubiquity of cat images on the Internet was inevitable. Resistance always was futile:
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.