I like Tokyo in the early morning, deep late night or midafternoon in hot summer. In those hours Tokyo is less crowded and going slow & quiet. But when it comes to the most quite Tokyo, it would be in New Year and Bon holidays. A lot of people get out of Tokyo, going home to see their family for those traditional holiday seasons and Tokyo falls into a hush. Especially, during New Year.
Last weekend we went out for walk to enjoy the silence still remaining in the air.
About 15 mins walk from our home, there is a unique Buddhist temple called “Gotoku-ji” known as home to the “Maneki-Neko“(Lucky Cat). It’s one of my daily walking destination.
There are many stories and temples claiming to be the origin of Lucky Cat and Gotoku-ji temple also has an interesting origin story like the following.
During the Edo Period (1603 to 1867), a feudal lord was on his way home from falconry when he saw the temple’s cat beckoning him to enter the temple.
Suddenly, there was a thunderstorm, which the lord avoided thanks to the cat. Thankful, the lord decided to rebuild the neglected temple.
Walk into the main entrance facing to the street, going through the approach with very high nut-pine trees, there is a main gate of the temple. Inside a complex there’re beautiful Japanese garden, 5-storied pagoda, a large cemetery and thousand of the cats doll.
On the left area of front building, aside of the approach to cemetery there is a small temple and you can find them there. All line up nicely, showing their cute face of classic Japanese cats to us in the silence. I’m not a cat person, still these cats! They’re just adorable.
At the office building in the back these ceramic cats are sold in various size. (Pretty reasonable, like 300 yen for the smallest one and even biggest one of 30cm hight is for 5000yen) They’re made for making wishes and when the wish comes true, you bring it back to the temple, but cute enough just for presents and good for souvenir too.
It’s in quiet residential neighborhood and not in an good location to access, but I think even those inconvenience make this temple more precious. It’s completely different experience from visiting famous temple like “Senso-ji” in Aasakusa.
It’s a Sunday morning. We enjoyed the calm there and left by the time of temple getting a bit crowded with people around 10am. And on the way back home I finally got the feeling of ready to start 2016.
– Gotoku-ji temple : 2 Chome-24-7 Gotokuji, Setagaya, Tokyo （Open at 9:00~16:30)
– about 15min walk from Gotokuji station on Odakyu-line, about 15min from Shinjyuku