Visit the birthplace of the ubiquitous lucky cat statues - and the temple itself is full of them!
Located in the Setagaya ward of Tokyo, Gōtokuji is a buddhist temple originating back to the Edo period. Boasting fairly large temple grounds, it makes for a lovely mini-trip for those of us who love cats and who would like to see these cuties in astonishing quantities. Trust me, the picture shows a minuscule quantity!
According to legend, a stray cat was taken in by a monk of the temple. One day, during a terrible storm, the cat rushed outside to the temple gate. There was a nobleman and the cat beckoned to him. As the nobleman stepped forward, a bolt of lightning crashed into the tree where the nobleman had been standing not a minute ago. And so, the lucky cat was born.
But don't take my word for it - there is a wonderful, wonderful book called "I Am Tama, the Lucky Cat" which recounts the legend in a beautiful, yet simple language for children. The illustrations are simply magical and the story is very easy to follow. My son was just starting Year 2 when he was introduced to the story, which is what inspired us to go and visit the actual temple. Definitely worth it it you are over on the west side of Tokyo. Particularly if you combine it with a ride on the Setagaya Line - an overground tram line that connects Sangenjaya station (Den-en Toshi Line) to Shimo-Takaido station (Keiō Line). Who knows - you might even get lucky and get the Cat Tram!