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Temple cats draw luck, prosperity — and visitors — to Tokyo neighborhood

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                The cat figurines come in numerous sizes.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The cat figurines come in numerous sizes.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                A prayer is written on a wooden panel decorated with an image of a beckoning cat.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A prayer is written on a wooden panel decorated with an image of a beckoning cat.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                A summer visitor posed with beckoning cat figurines at Gotokuji Temple in Tokyo.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A summer visitor posed with beckoning cat figurines at Gotokuji Temple in Tokyo.

TOKYO >> Countless cats beckon visitors at a temple in a quiet Tokyo neighborhood.

Legend provided by the Gotokuji Buddhist temple says it is the birthplace of beckoning cats, the figurines widely believed to bring good luck and prosperity.

Some visitors come to the temple to snap a few photos, while others pray and make wishes.

The cat figurines, known in Hawaii as maneki neko, are so plentiful that the Setagaya neighborhood seems proud that they may carry more luck than the rest of the city combined.

The streets leading to the temple are crammed with gift shops selling anything printed with beckoning cat images. A local train is adorned with the images, as is the temple’s vending machine.

And, of course, temple visitors believing in the luck the cats might bring them can obtain more figurines for their own undoubtedly overpopulated shelves.

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