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

  • Malaysia MP accused of ‘influencing law’

    Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Sng arrived in Siem Reap early on Wednesday, in what was slammed by one NGO as efforts by Kuala Lumpur to “influence Cambodian law”. The Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh requested on January 30 “cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign

  • Ministries begin measures to offset EU’s EBA decision

    In the wake of the EU’s controversial announcement this week that it has begun the withdrawal process for Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential agreement, government ministries and political analysts continued to share their reactions and economic mitigation plans in preparation for the

  • Emirates launches route connecting Phnom Penh, Bangkok

    Emirates will launch a daily service on June 1 linking Phnom Penh (PNH) and Bangkok (BKK). The service from Phnom Penh to Dubai, via Bangkok, will provide more flight options to passengers travelling between the capitals of Cambodia and Thailand. Travellers from the Southeast Asian nations

  • Phnom Penh police to crack down on traffic violators

    Sar Thet, the head of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, has reorganised the duties of the capital’s traffic officers to tackle the city’s growing congestion, with a focus on those who refuse to obey the road laws. Street vendors who clog Phnom Penh’