Friday, 30 June 2017

A beautiful temple full of cats in Tokyo for those who believe in magic & love cats: Goutokuji Temple by Andrés Hernandéz

By Andrés Hernández: Not many people know this beautiful temple in Tokyo. A temple that reminds me how fortunate I am, hence I got a wonderful wife, my family in Colombia, my few good friends and my cats Pepe and Federica (in Cat’s heaven).

When Belén had the idea to visit Goutokuji Temple we were completely lost in the pouring rain from Tokyo. Although we were about to go back to the train station and maybe have a cup of tea, we decided to continue our journey. Finally, after a good long hour in the rain we found that gorgeous temple. It was magic! I felt part of the story when we arrived during that heavy rain. I still have that imaginary picture of Pepe and Federica waving their hands to show us the right path to the fortune. Let me share with you the original story of the Japanese “waiving cat”. This is for those who believe in magic and love cats.

“The Original Story of a Waving Cat¨  (Original story taken from the shop in the temple)

In Goutokuji, Goutokuji Temple is located at 2 Goutokuji Setatagaya – Ward Tokyo, and it is famous for the grave of Sir Li Naosuke, the chief Minister, Tairo, of the Tokugawa Government in the late Edo period. The notable temple in western Tokyo covers a vast area is starred with old, solemn trees. Huge numbers of parishioners and visitors come to pray and admire the beautiful architecture. Although the temple is renowned as the stern Zen temple, ¨it is also a shrine for the cute cats that wave with one arm raised. This is the other world-famous character, which originated from an episode in the history of the temple. Here is the story of a Monk and a waving cat. A long time ago when the temple was a shabby hut and the Monk could barely live on the small income he gained as a practicing mendicant. He had a cat and cared for it like his own child, sharing his own meal with it. One day he said to the cat, “If you are grateful to me, bring some fortune to the temple”. After many months, one summer afternoon the Monk heard sounds around the gate, and there he saw five or six samurai warriors on their way home from hawk hunting approaching him and leaving their horses behind. They said, “We were about to pass in front of your gate, but there was a cat crouching and suddenly it lifted one arm and started waving and waving when it saw us. We were surprised and intrigued, and that brought us to come here to ask for some rest”. So the Monk serve d his bitter tea and told them to relax. Suddenly the sky darkened and heavy rain began to fall with thunder. While they waited a long time for the sky to clear, the Monk preached Sanzei-inga-no-hou (past, present future reasoning sermons). The Samurais were delighted and began to think about converting to the temple. Immediately, one samurai announced: “My name is Naotaka Li. I am the kind of the Hikone, Koshu prefecture. Due to your cat’s waving, we were able to hear your preaching. This has opened our eyes, and seems to be the start of something new. This must be Buddha’s will. Soon after returned home, Naotaka Li donated huge rice fields and croplands to make the temple grand and generous as it is now. Because of the cat, fortune had been brought to the temple. Therefore, Gotokuji is called the cat temple. The Monk later established the grave of the cat and blessed it. Before long statue of the cute waving cat was established so that people might remember the episode and worship it. Now everybody knows the temple as the symbol of household serenity, business prosperity, and fulfillment of wishes.”

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