Gotokuji District

The charm of 'small town' Gotokuji in Setagaya Ward

By Elena Lisina    - 2 min read

One of the most popular images in Japan is of Maneko Neko. I have Maneko Neko figurines in my own collection and have brought them as souvenirs for my friends. However, while the story of Maneki Neko is well known, I only learnt about where it came from quite recently. This trip I decided to head to Gotokuji and visit its temple.

In Setagaya Ward, Gotokuji Station is less than 20 minutes by train from Shinjuku, but as I arrived, it felt like another city or, more precisely, a small town with an unhurried sense of rhythm and warm atmosphere. It was the kind of place where hearing the sounds of the cicadas in summer and the sound of semaphores on the railway intersection reminded me of scenes from an anime film.

The area around Gotokuji seemed clearly quite proud of its historical temple. As I left the station I was greeted by a Maneki Neko sculpture. Gotokuji Temple, itself, is located about a 10-minute walk along the local railway and shopping street but as I walked, along with images of Maneki Neko in store windows, I came across some very friendly locals who were quite happy to greet me and offer advice and directions for their area. Receiving such help, I continued to make my way towards the temple.

On the way it was just impossible for me to pass by a gift shop without purchasing a lovely Maneki Neko ceramic figurine carefully wrapped by a gentleman seller. Of course, I couldn't eat a ceramic cat so instead I opted for some ramen. My lunch at Ramen Hidakaya was very nice.

The area may be famous for its lucky Maneko Neko but with its charming small-town atmosphere, very different to that of central Tokyo, the area around Gotokuji Station, really turned out to be quite a pleasant break from the rest of Tokyo.

Getting there

Gotokuji Station is 20 minutes from Shinjuku on the Odakyu Odawara Line.

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: Matane!