Gotoku-ji Temple, Tokyo. This temple has become a sight-seeing spot for travelers from all over the world thanks to its collection of 1000 cat figures. It is said that the first “Lucky Cat” (maneki-neko) came from Gotokuji. Though there are many stories of how the first “Lucky Cat” came to be, according to Asahi Shinbun, it was made to honor a white cat named Tama, who once lived in the temple. Upon his death, the original figure of a white cat beckoning with its paw was made, and since then its popularity has only grown. Mr. Kazuo Hiroshima, a volunteer guide at the temple, further illuminates the story for us. “In 1633, Lord Naotaka Ii was resting under a tree near the temple when Tama appeared at the entrance and beckoned him inside. Not long after Naotaka went in, the weather suddenly turned bad, and the tree he was resting under was hit and destroyed by lightning. Naotaka was extremely grateful to both Tama and the temple and appointed Gotokuji the official temple of the Ii family. Thanks to the good fortune Tama brought, the temple grew and survives to this day.”
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