Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Maneki Neko

Tokyo Take Two

Thursday morning we woke up to a wintery mix. We took our time getting organized hoping the weather would break. The weather was still messy by the time we finished breakfast and checked out of our room. Oh, well. That’s one of my rules. “Don’t let the weather stop you.” Instead, we stopped at the closest Family Mart and invested in lightweight umbrellas. Perhaps, the best purchase of the day!

On our agenda today was exploring Asakusa. Asakusa is located on the NE side of Tokyo. We were in the SW corner. It took us about 40 minutes on the train to transit over.

Our first stop was to visit the Sensō-ji Temple. Sensō-ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. It is very significant and attracts 30 million visitors every year. Cindy and I accounted for two of those visitors today.

The Temple is huge. I was especially excited because I haven’t been to this temple in over a year. Last time Dave and I visited was during Tokyo marathon weekend. At that time, the pagoda was undergoing renovations. I was able to see the pagoda for the first time today!

The snow, the pagoda, and the temple made for a magical experience. Check out all the people!


I’m so glad we made the trip over to see the Temple. It truly is a magnificent structure and the gardens are amazing even in the rain/ snow.

Cindy was able to have another stamp added to her book at the Senso-ji Temple and also at the Asakusa Shrine.

Since we were in the area, I wanted to take Cindy to see another of my favorite Shrines. The Imoda Shrine or Lucky Cat Shrine. It’s so cute and the coupled cats are said to bring good luck and love to marriages. Who doesn’t need a little extra of either?

My favorite thing to discover at certain Shrines is the “May Peace Prevail On Earth” signs. The sign coupled with the serenity of the Shrine and the beauty of gardens truly makes my heart happy. I can’t help but believe that every one of the wishes tied on the prayer wall are wishes of peace, goodness, and well being.

By this point in the day, we were starting to get chilly and wet from the winter mix. We worked our way back to the shopping area around Asakusa. We shopped for a few items and then worked our way to Shibuya. We had one shopping spot to visit before heading home. My favorite. Tokyu Hands.

The only thing holding us back while shopping was the reminder we still had to get back home with all of our purchases!

Today, without intention, I treated Cindy to a true wabi-sabi experience. The weather was definitely imperfect, but the opportunity to see the Temple and pagoda in a little bit of snow was pretty fun. Of the 30 million visitors, how many had a chance to experience it in snow? She was such a trooper. I teased her at one point and said I was glad she was my sister in law from Chicago – otherwise, we might not have left the hotel! To her, this was a messy winter day at home!

We worked our way home and enjoyed a cold beer and Garrett’s popcorn as an appetizer to the white bean chicken chili Dave made this morning in the crockpot. Ahhhh. After two days in Tokyo, there’s no place like home!

Rainy Day = Cat Cafe

What better place to spend a rainy day than a cat cafe? My friend, Laila, and I went to the Cat Cafe in Kamakura. The building is easy to spot, although, I didn’t realize it was a cat cafe until a couple of weeks ago. The train the cat is holding is the Enoshima Electric train that takes you from Kamakura to the small island of Enoshima. One of the stops along this train line is the Great Buddha. 

This cafe was a little bit different than the one we visited a couple months ago. For starters, they served food. Yes, food. The thought of eating at a cat cafe grossed me out. Especially, when all that was served was curry. The pictures alone are unappetizing and the thought of a cat hair in my food. Blah. Gross. 

On the third floor was the cat cafe and on the second floor was the gift shop. We went to the cat cafe first. You don’t have to order food, you can just order a drink. I ordered a green tea latte. I was pleased it came with a lid and it tasted alright. 

There were fewer cats at this cafe. They were however, more playful than the cats at the other cafe. I think there were six total cats. 

The cats had no boundaries. Once we saw them climbing on the tables, we were happy we decided not to eat. 

One of the other customers bought a bag of kitty treats. They all came running when she opened them. 

This picture makes me laugh – she’s taking a picture with her flip phone. Notice the charms dangling!! 

A couple of the cats were bold and would come over for pets.  

Or to clean their butt. On the table. Yeah, definitely glad I’m not trying to eat food.

None the less, it was fun to get a little cat love and spend some time relaxing. 

After we left the cafe, we went to the gift shop. There were all types of cat souvenirs. Including a GIANT cat. 

A huge Zen cat and of course lots of maneki-neko. 

When you visit and you fancy a trip to a cat cafe, I will suggest we go to the one in Yokohama. Despite being a little further away, I like the atmosphere and the larger space and more cats. Plus, as I mentioned, the food factor was pretty gross. 

Gotokuji Temple

A neighbor friend told me about a very special Temple. Or perhaps a more appropriate name is the “The Mecca of the Lucky Cat” – The official name is the Gotokuji Temple and it is known casually as the Lucky Cat Temple.

My research about Gotokuji Temple informed me of the supposed origin of the Maneki Neko or Lucky Cat. Legend holds the maneki neko originated during the Edo period.

Important side note: My research for various things keeps referring to the Edo Period. Being a Science enthusiast and not so much a history buff, I decided to research the Edo Period a little bit. The cliff note version of the Edo Period: 1603-1868.  During this time there was economic growth, strict social order, an isolated foreign policy, stable population and prevalent arts and entertainment.

Back to our story – A feudal Lord from Hakone was passing the temple in Edo (now Tokyo) when a dangerous thunderstorm rolled through the area. Seeking shelter, the Lord paused under a tree outside the temple. While he was huddled under the tree, a cat beckoned him into the temple. Curious and in dire need of safety, the Lord followed the cat into the temple. It was while he was seeking shelter and visiting the temple, the Lord made friends with the priest of the temple. Together they watched the tree he was huddled under be struck by lightning. Realizing the cat saved his life, the Lord was overcome with gratitude for the cat. He dedicated funds and time to rebuild the temple. Eventually, he was able to claim the temple as his family temple and it became Gotokuji. As the legend was passed through generations, people began to visit the Gotokuji with maneki neko figurines as an offering for their gratitude when they experienced good fortune.

Gotokuji is located in the quiet Setagaya Ward of Tokyo, away from the hustle and the bustle of the city. Dina agreed to join me on this excursion to visit Gotokuji Temple. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the temple on the train and then another 15 minutes to walk from the train station. It was well worth the journey. Just me enjoying a rest along the way. 

Despite being a bit later in the fall season, the leaves were spectacular! 

Entrance Gate

Incense burner

One the the beautiful features of the temple was the large pagoda. 

The obvious feature was the maneki neko shrine. They were arranged in a beautiful collection. Absolutely, adorable. 

The maneki neko! The Japanese Maple!

A few close up pictures. 

Some had writing & faces!

This one might be my favorite. The maneki neko with a maneki neko balanced on his head!! 

After our obligatory selfie…

 we pulled ourselves away from the maneki neko shrine and ventured around the temple grounds. 

The cemetery was the biggest one I’ve ever seen and not on a hill! 

The prayer walls were super cute as well! Unfortunately, they were sold out of the prayer plaques! At a temple!!  Seriously!?! Guess that means I will need to go back when you come visit! Yay! 

Eventually, we made our way to the “gift store” for a temple stamp and a maneki neko. I love my new maneki neko. He is a pretty good size and only a size 7. They had up to the size 10 which are the really big ones in the pictures. 

Another tourist shot of us! 

We both bought a smaller maneki neko to contribute to the shrine. We are holding them in the picture. I wrote a prayer on mine for peace, happiness and love. The one I placed is the center of the three at the bottom. 

A few more pictures of the shrine and temple as we were leaving. 

Here the origin of the maneki neko according to the information sheet given to me when my temple book was stamped, it is a story about a Monk and a waving cat. Still during the Edo period, the poor Monk could barely live on the small income he received at the temple. His residence was a shabby hut on the temple premises. He had a cat who he cared for like a child and shared what little food he had with it. One day he told the cat, “if you are grateful to me, bring some fortune to the temple.” Several months later, the monk was surprised to see 5 samurai warriors outside the temple. The monk questioned the warriors and they stated they were passing the temple and saw the cat in front of the gate waving to them. They were curious and decided to stop and seek rest. The monk offered them tea and the warriors rested. A little while later, a dangerous thunderstorm rolled through the area. It was during this time, the monk was able to preach “Sannei-inga-no-hou” (past, present and future reasoning sermons). The samurai were intrigued by the sermon and one was immediately converted and were convinced the cat led them to the monk to follow Buddha’s will. The samurais returned home and donated rice fields and crop lands to help make the temple grand like it is today. The good fortune brought to the temple is contributed to the cat. When the original cat passed, the grave was blessed by the monk. The maneki neko has become a symbol of household serenity, business prosperity and fulfillment of wishes. 

After we explored the temple, we were ready for lunch. Ramen!

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