My visit to Gotokuji temple was quite different from what I had imagined.
First, the famous Maneko Neko were nowhere to be seen. Instead, I came across a beautiful pagoda made of dark wood, then a main building and the entrance to a cemetery with some very old looking gravestones and rows of red-draped Jizo statues.
Second, among the greenery of Gotokuji garden I could hear the loud rattling cries of cicadas while one light-coloured temple seemed to be quite new. On the surprisingly spacious grounds, I also saw some construction work being done on another large building. I then came across a booth in one of the buildings selling some figurines, special ema and other such religious items. A picked up a couple of items as I usually like to help support the temples and shrines that I visit.
Finally, and to my great surprise, I found a corner behind the main building full of Maneki Neko figurines! There were hundreds of them, old and new, tiny and large ones! It was very different to how I had imagined it. I had envisioned Maneki Neko spread out all over the temple, but instead they were concentrated in just one place. I did, however, spy a tiny Maneko Neko carved in the wooden pagoda...
If the legend of Gotokuji is true, then to have developed from a poor temple into a large and famous one courtesy of human kindness and a cat's gratitude is something worth celebrating. Adding to the charm were the lack of Tokyo or Kyoto-like crowds of tourists fussing over this and that. There were a number of places set up to rest and relax with its nice green garden.
I enjoyed my visit very much because I could spend my time here quietly and peacefully and for me, that is the most important thing!
Gotokuji Temple is an 8-minute walk from Gotokuji Station on the Odakyu Odawara Line or a 3-minute walk from Miyanosaka Station on the Tokyu Setagaya Line.
Find out more about Gotokuji Temple.