By Peter Lin
Hello Kitty may not actually be the most famous Japanese cat after all! It all started in 1697 according to the legend! At that time, before the Gotokuji Temple was what it is now, a poor and lonely priest was living alone with his cat.
One day, during a heavy storm a rich nobleman was stranded in a heavy rainstorm and took refuge under a nearby tree. Once settled the nobleman saw the priest’s cat at the Temple’s entrance signaling him to enter. Surprised, the nobleman followed the cat and as soon as he moved toward the cat the tree was struck by lightning. Believing that the cat had saved his life the nobleman decided to become the temple’s benefactor and soon the temple became prosperous.
As you must have guessed by now, the Maneki Neko are charms for good luck and prosperity not only in Japan but all across Asia and especially in China.
Just for this story alone Gotokuji Temple is a “must see” when visiting Tokyo. Smaller than most famous temples around Tokyo, Gotokuji is unique for its design. It’s three-storied pagoda and Kyoto-like atmosphere give even more weight to this beautiful story of the Priest’s cat and the nobleman.
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