• Goutokuji Temple, 17th Century
  • www.manekinekoclub.com There once was a poor monk at a poverty-stricken temple. He shared what little food he had with his pet cat. One day, Lord Ii Naotaka of the Hikone district near Kyoto was caught in the rain near the temple on his way home from hunting. Taking refuge under a nearby tree, he beheld a cat beckoning him to enter the temple compound. As soon as he ventured forth to investigate this strange cat, the tree was struck down by lighting. The lord quickly became the temple's patron, and the temple soon became prosperous. It was renamed Goutokuji Temple in 1697 - even today, the walls of this temple in Tokyo's Setagaya ward are adorned with paintings of bobtail cats. When the cat died, it was buried in Goutokuji's cat cemetery, and the Maneki Neko was made in honor of this magical cat. According to some, the Maneki Neko since that time has been considered an incarnation of the Goddess of Mercy, the deity who watches over and protects people in the earthly realm. The Goutokuji Temple today is home to dozens of statues of this legendary cat, and owners of lost or sick cats come to the temple to stick up prayer boards containing the image of the Maneki Neko.   

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