Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Lucky cat’ temple in Tokyo drawing Instagrammers

‘Lucky cat’ temple in Tokyo drawing Instagrammers

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
‘Maneki neko’ or beckoning cat ornaments are seen on display at Gotokuji Temple in Tokyo. KAZUHIRO NOGI /afp

‘Lucky cat’ temple in Tokyo drawing Instagrammers

TOKYO Gotokuji temple has long attracted spiritual visitors with its thousands of figurines of beckoning white cats, thought to bring good luck. But of late it has brought in another breed: Instagrammers.

Around 10,000 figurines of white cats seated with one paw raised are stacked and strewn around the temple, providing tempting fodder for social media mavens from Japan and abroad.

“I actually Googled ‘Instagram spots Tokyo’,” said Emily Lin, a 25-year-old tourist from Hong Kong.

“This was named one of the most ‘Instagrammable spots.’”

“These cats are like a symbol of luck in the Japanese culture,” she added, looking for for new angles to capture the copious cats.

Ying-Chi Hsueh, 31, a photography student from Taiwan, also said he had been drawn to the temple by the photogenic felines.

“I saw a picture on Instagram and I came here using Google Maps,” he said.

They were among dozens of visitors there the week before Wednesday’s International Cat Day, snapping shots of the temple’s “maneki-neko” or “beckoning cat” figurines.

Temple lore says the popularity of the figures was inspired by an event at Gotokuji in the 15th century.

The priest at the time kept a cat called Tama, which according to legend one day strolled out of the temple and raised its right paw to beckon a powerful samurai lord inside – moments before a thunderstorm stuck.

Impressed by the cat who had helped him escape the storm, the lord became a patron of the temple.

Tama the cat has been immortalised as a stylised white cat figure considered a symbol of good luck in Japan and across Asia, usually depicted sitting on his back legs with one paw raised.

The figurines are often spotted in businesses and some versions feature a paw that moves back and forth.

“The maneki-neko gives you the chance to appreciate what you have, the people you meet,” Gotokuji’s deputy priest Tessai Kasukawa told AFP.

“The feeling of appreciation will bring you good luck.”

And the feline figurines have certainly brought luck to the temple, which says it is seeing a growing number of visitors.

“Now with the Tokyo Olympics coming up [in 2020], we receive many international visitors. They spread the word about the temple, making this place globally famous,” Kasukawa said.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Man arrested for fake PM endorsement

    The owner of currency exchange company GCG Asia Co Ltd was temporarily detained by the court yesterday for attempted fraud after Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted to the company using his name and pictures to allege his endorsement of the firm. Phnom Penh Municipal Court

  • Archeologists find ancient phallic statue

    An archeological team has found a metre-long tipless stone linga (penis) of the Hindu deity Shiva in the foundations of a temple in Kratie province’s historical Samphu Borak area, a former capital of the pre-Angkor Empire Chenla period. Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of

  • Sihanoukville authority orders structure dismantled

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration has ordered owners of two unauthorised construction sites to immediately dismantle them and warned of legal action if the owners failed to comply. Ly Chet Niyom, development management and construction bureau chief at the provincial hall, told The Post on

  • Police seek arrest of Chinese ‘gang’

    Cambodian police remain on the lookout for 20 Chinese nationals who earlier this month posted a video clip threatening to stoke insecurity in Preah Sihanouk province, though the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh maintained the group posed no threats to Cambodia’s national security. National Police