Gokoku-ji Temple

Best temple cats in Tokyo

Gokoku-ji is one of my favorite temples, because it’s home to the best graveyard, the best cats, and two of the strangest shrines in Tokyo.

Right through this gate!

First, let’s go see the One-word Saint and the Scapegoat Saint. They’re to the right as we walk through the gate at the top of the stairs.

The Hitocoto (One-word) Jizo is famous for granting any wish that can be expressed in a single word
And the Migawari (Scapegoat) Jizo right next to it is famed for volunteering to take your place, even when you deserve to get what’s coming to you

After we ask the resident saints to grant our hearts’ desires and let us duck our just deserts, lets backtrack and head up to the main sanctuary and pagoda, because they’re magnificent in any season.

The main building is especially nice at cherry blossom time (late March)
…and during fall leaf season (November)
…when the gingko trees are robed in gold and the Japanese maples turn red
The nearby pagoda is at its Insta-best in the snow
And the graveyard that stretches out behind and below the main building has such a stark beauty when blanketed in white
But all year round, the cemetery is home to an excellent crew of temple cats…with attitude
If you’re looking for loafcats straight out of a woodblock print, this where you’ll see ’em. Best viewing time is after 4:00, when local cat lovers arrive to give them their daily treats


Note: Don’t confuse this temple (Gokoku-ji) with Gotoku-ji, which is the lucky cat temple. If you’d like to visit the lucky cat temple instead, click here:

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 For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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