Lucky Cats at Shrines! 9 Shrines with Cat Charms and Stamps!

Lucky Cats at Shrines! 9 Shrines with Cat Charms and Stamps!

If you love cats, you're likely to want to visit shrines related to cats.

There are many cat shrines in Japan, including those with cat legends and those where you can get cat-themed stamps.

This time, we'll introduce shrines that cat lovers must visit at least once.

You might become even more favored by cats by visiting these shrines.



1. Visit Shrines Dedicated to Cats!
∟1-1. Karakoneko Shrine (Nagano)
∟1-2. Omatsu Daigongen (Tokushima)
∟1-3. Sekiheki Shrine (Hyogo)
2. Pray to Cat Statues at Shrines!
∟2-1. Nikko Toshogu Shrine (Tochigi)
∟2-2. Kijima Shrine (Kyoto)
∟2-3. Mikii Inari Shrine (Tokyo)
3. Collect Cat Stamps! Tour Shrines and Create a Cat Stamp Book!
∟3-1. Chuneo Shrine (Akita)
∟3-2. Maetama Shrine (Saitama)
∟3-3. Imado Shrine (Tokyo)


1. Visit Shrines Dedicated to Cats!

First, let's focus on shrines with cat legends.

Many cat legends involve cats bringing benefits to the people living there.

Cats have been treasured since ancient times for bringing happiness, but there are also many stories of cats actually helping humans.

While stories of dogs helping humans are common, in some regions, cats also played significant roles.

Let's take a look at shrines with cat legends.


1-1. Karakoneko Shrine (Nagano)

In Sakaki Town, Nagano, Karakoneko Shrine has a legend of a brave cat.

Long ago, Sakaki Town was greatly troubled by a giant rat. The crops were ravaged, leading to famine. Desperate, the villagers called for a cat from China to exterminate the rats.

The cat and the rats fought fiercely. Cornered, the rat bit into a rock blocking the lake's water, dying in the process.

The rock split, and the water gushed out, carrying away the cat from China, who died as a result.

The cat that saved the village from China was honored and named Karakoneko Shrine, where it is still worshiped today.


1-2. Omatsu Daigongen (Tokushima)

Omatsu Daigongen is a shrine in Anan City, Tokushima.

"Omatsu" refers to a human woman, but it's a story counted among Japan's three great mysterious cat tales.

During the Edo period, a couple borrowed money from a local lord to survive a poor harvest. After overcoming their difficulties and repaying the money, the lord refused to return the promissory note and falsely claimed he hadn't received any money.

The husband died early, and Omatsu, the wife, appealed to the magistrate and even blocked a daimyo's procession to protest, leading to her being sentenced to death for disrespect. On her deathbed, she conveyed her regrets to her beloved cat.

After Omatsu's death, the cat appeared to the lord and the daimyo, causing many strange incidents, resulting in the downfall of both families.

The legend of the cat avenging its master's grievances attracts many worshippers, and countless Maneki Neko (beckoning cats) are offered at the shrine.


1-3. Sekiheki Shrine (Hyogo)

There is also a cat worshiped at Sekiheki Inari Shrine in Kakogawa City, Hyogo.

During the Edo period, there was a skilled oil seller in the area who loved gambling and lived in poverty.

One day, he took his cat, Tama, to a gambling den, where Tama helped him win by signaling the dice outcomes with blinks.

The oil seller won big that day, but was ambushed and killed on his way home, his money stolen.

Tama then possessed the dead oil seller's body, attempting to avenge him but was killed in the process.

A shrine was built against the blood-stained wall, where Tama is worshiped as a deity. The shrine is revered for luck in gambling, owing to Tama's ability to predict dice outcomes.


2. Pray to Cat Statues at Shrines!

Next, let's look at shrines with cat motifs in their statues.

While many might think of torii gates and guardian dogs at shrines, there are also numerous shrines with cat statues.

If you love cats, these are must-see attractions.

Pray to the cats at these cat shrines for blessings.


2-1. Nikko Toshogu Shrine (Tochigi)

Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Nikko City, Tochigi, is famous for its cat statue.

A World Heritage site, Nikko Toshogu's Sleeping Cat is a significant attraction.

The Sleeping Cat, as the name suggests, looks like a sleeping cat, but from a different angle, it appears to be ready to pounce on its prey.

This motif represents the Tokugawa shogunate being in a peaceful era but always ready for war.

Originally, the Sleeping Cat was depicted with one eye half-open, but it has been closed after restoration.


2-2. Kijima Shrine (Kyoto)

Kijima Shrine in Kyoto has guardian cats (Koma Neko) instead of guardian dogs.

The guardian cats also feature the "A-un" (open-mouth and closed-mouth) characteristic, typically seen in guardian dogs and Kongo Rikishi statues.

It's said that the one with an open mouth might be a mother cat because of the kitten on its chest, and the other a father cat.

While not everyone may associate cats with shrines, cats were highly valued there for controlling pests that damaged crops and ate silkworms, the source of silk.

Kijima Shrine, which treasured cats for their role in pest control, thus features guardian cats as divine messengers.


2-3. Mikii Inari Shrine (Tokyo)

Mikii Inari Shrine in Akasaka, Tokyo, is unique for having cat statues instead of fox statues.

Moreover, carvings in the shrine's main hall depict cats consuming human souls and even riding on demons, creating a mysterious atmosphere amid the city buildings.

There's also a rule that one should not eat octopus when praying at this shrine, adding to its mystique.

Being unattended, the true story behind the shrine is difficult to uncover, but it remains a well-known cat shrine among those in the know.


3. Collect Cat Stamps! Tour Shrines and Create a Cat Stamp Book!

Stamps are one of the attractions of visiting shrines.

Here, we introduce shrines where you can get cat-themed stamps.

Stamps are proof of visiting a shrine, but originally, they symbolize a connection with the deities.

Preparing a stamp book and collecting stamps from many shrines can be a hobby, and having cute cat stamps will surely make you look back on it more often.

Let's introduce shrines where you can get cat stamps.


3-1. Chuneo Shrine (Akita)

Chuneo Shrine in Akita is dedicated to a loyal cat that existed during the Meiji era.

The shrine, built in memory of a cat that protected food and property from rats day and night, incorporates cats and rice plants in its design.

Thinking of the cat that loved humans and protected their lives at the cost of its own, one feels a strong emotional connection, making it desirable to establish a bond with such a shrine.

The design of the cat and rice plants on the stamp also serves as a charm, making it worthwhile to visit the shrine not just for stamps but also for cat-themed goods.


3-2. Maetama Shrine (Saitama)

Maetama Shrine, which gave rise to the name of Saitama Prefecture, offers a limited-edition cat design stamp around February 22, Cat Day, for a week.

Originally a shrine for matchmaking deities, Maetama Shrine also promises connections with humans, and perhaps even with cats.

Many shrines offer limited-edition cat stamps around Cat Day, making it fun to travel around collecting them during this period.


3-3. Imado Shrine (Tokyo)

Originally, cats were considered bringers of happiness and were not allowed to live indoors.

The Maneki Neko, created from the desire to always have cats around, claims its origins at Imado Shrine in Asakusa, Tokyo, where the stamp also features a cat.

While Asakusa is famous for Sensoji Temple, cat lovers should also make a point to visit Imado Shrine to collect its cat stamp.



There are many shrines related to cats all over Japan.

Whether it's shrines where cats are worshiped or shrines offering cat stamps, each has its unique charm for cat lovers.

While some shrines may be easier to visit depending on where you live, and others may be more challenging, starting from nearby places and gradually touring cat-related shrines could become a hobby.

There are sure to be benefits from cats waiting for you.


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