‘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

  • Hun Sen ready to ‘break record’, says Rainsy lost

    Caretaker prime minister Hun Sen used a meeting with 18,400 factory workers on Wednesday to predict that he would beat the record for being the world’s longest-serving non-royal leader. He also used the platform to slam political opponent Sam Rainsy who he said had lost

  • Sihanoukville land prices skyrocketing amid breakneck development

    Sihanoukville, the Kingdom’s most famous beach destination for tourists, is seemingly becoming a paradise for Chinese investors as well. The huge influx of Chinese investors has caused property values to rise, especially the price of land, which has nearly doubled in some places near

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by