I’ve always been a fan of the Maneki Neko. But I did not know they had their temple!
10 years ago I had one at home. It was articulated. He raised and lowered his paw. A battery placed in the rear was powering the mechanism hidden in the body of the cat. After a day of satisfaction and 3 sleepless nights because of the noise produced by the paw, this cat stopped being part of my life.
Nobody knows the exact origin of this cat and there are many versions about it. Personally, I prefer the story that tells that on a day of heavy rain, a rich man was invited by a cat to enter a temple to find shelter. The man in thanks renovated the temple and assured its prosperity. At the death of the cat, a statue was carved in memory of this episode and the temple became famous among prayers who came to ask the cat for good fortune. This practice spread and cats were placed in storefronts to attract customers (raised left paw) or wealth (raised right paw).
Also note that the cat can be white, symbol of purity, but not only, it can be black to ward off evil spirits, red to attract health, gold to bring wealth, pink to find love or green to succeeded in school or at university exams.
What I like in this temple is the pagoda. If you look closely, you can see cat sculptures, which seems to look at you. Small hint: have a good look under the roof of the second level of the pagoda on the different facades.
Another place not to be missed, next to one of the small buildings of the temple, there is a accumulation of figurines of all sizes. You can purchase one in the temple shop, make a wish and add it to the collection. Good luck!
This place is also an ideal place to escape the urban bustle without leaving Tokyo. Beautiful blooming cherry trees can admire during the sakura.
Finally, do not miss to take a walk in the Buddhist cemetery. It is quite rare to be able to visit one and it’s very exotic.