Tag: cat shrine

Cats Are The Monks At This Japanese Temple

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:

Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(11)

Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(2)
“This is how it’s supposed to be, humans: You kneeling before us. Those ancient Egyptians had it right.”
Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(5)
“I can call upon powerful minions to smite you whenever I please.”

Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(10)

Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(9)
“Tiny humans are permitted to touch my holy personage.”
Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(4)
“And here is the nursery, where it’s currently reading time for our kittens…”
Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(3)
“Walk with me on the path to deliciousness…”
Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(8)
“Read the sign! We’re not open until I says so. Now if you please, I have napping to do.”

Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(7)
Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(13)
Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(12)
Screenshot_2020-08-12 ねこ地蔵とおる ( nekojizo) is on Instagram(4)

 

Become Your Kitty’s Twin With A Japanese Company’s Creepy Cat Mask

As we’ve documented quite a bit on this blog — and via my own travels in Japan — the Japanese are absolutely crazy for cats, and their obsession has led to some strange inventions.

From the country that brought you cat shrines, cat train conductors and cat baby carriages comes My Family, a company that can turn you into your cat’s twin with customized kitty masks.

For a paltry $2,700 (we told you they’re obsessed), all you need to provide are some good photos of your feline master, and the totally normal people at My Family will craft and ship your creepy-looking kitty visage right to your home.

Here’s our totally accurate translation:

Step 1: Put on your cat mask:

ura1-300x300

Step 2: Pick up your cat and traumatize him or her for life:

IMG_7896-225x300

Step 3: Prepare to be bitten and clawed.

Just look at the cat above. He’s not saying “Hey! There’s my beloved owner, and he looks like me now!”

Nope.

That cat is like “WTF dude get away from me! Put me down! I cannot unsee this!”

We ran the idea by Buddy, and while he says my wearing a mask of his face would be an improvement (hey, he is handsome), he would certainly bite me if I spent $2,700 on a Buddy mask instead of a Roomba.

itsme-myfamily-mask.jpg
A normal scene in a Japanese sake bar.

Setagaya: The Magnificent Cat Shrine

Look at all the buddies!

No trip to Japan would be complete for me without a visit to Gōtokuji Temple, home of the famous cat shrine.

Legend has it that a feudal lord and a few of his samurai were road-weary and looking for a spot to rest when they saw a cat by the road, beckoning them with a waving paw.

Gōtokuji Temple in Setagaya, Tokyo
Thousands of maneki-neko (“beckoning cat”) statues are placed at Gōtokuji Temple.

The lord and his men followed the cat, who led them to a humble temple. The group reached the shelter of the temple just in time to avoid a thunderstorm and resultant downpour.

Thankful that he was dry and warm — and inspired by the temple monk’s sermon — the feudal lord vowed to become the temple’s benefactor, providing the funds for the extensive grounds that exist at Gōtokuji Temple today.

Because it was the cat who led the lord to the shelter of the temple, the “beckoning cat” — maneki neko — became associated with good luck across Japan. Today maneki neko can be seen in shops, restaurants and homes throughout the country.

Even by the immaculate standards of Japanese temple complexes, Gōtokuji Temple is remarkably well-manicured.
Situated in the “suburbs” of Setagaya, Gōtokuji is also more quiet and peaceful than some of the other temples that are wedged between skyscrapers and commercial plazas.
Gōtokuji Temple
The Gōtokuji Temple grounds are well-manicured even by Japanese standards.
Gōtokuji Temple
According to a local docent — a kindly elderly man toting a photo album of the shrine — the temple structure above is inhabited by a brown-coated cat, who calls the second floor home.

 

Cat Shrine Temple
The shrine grounds include several temples and other structures.
Gōtokuji Temple
Staff at Gōtokuji Temple paint calligraphy with the temple’s symbols and stamp them.
Japanese calligraphy
Like other shrines throughout Japan, the temple has its own calligraphic symbols and stamps.
Gōtokuji Temple
That’s a lot of cats!
Gōtokuji Temple
Visitors leave statues of the beckoning cat as they pray for personal success or prosperity in business.