The Manekin Neko – beckoning cat – has many different stories of origin. The most popular story takes place at the Gotokoji Temple. Here again there are differen versions but the story which the Gotokoji Temple itself tells goes like this:
A long time ago when the temple faced some financial problems, the monk told to his cat, whom he took care of despite the crisis, to go and bring some fortune. One summerday a group of sumurais came by and apperently they saw the cat waving – drawing their attention and making them decide to rest at the temple. Suddenly the sky began to darken and heavy rain and thunder fell down. As it appears one of the samurais was the king of Hikone and he attributed the cat’s beckoning as Buddha’s will. Soon after the king returned home he donated fortunes to the temple – because of the beckoning of the cat.
Today the Manekin Neko can be seen in a lot of shop entrances in hope to lure customers in and bring good luck and fortune. The middle sized temple area does look like any ordinary temple except for one small area right after the main entrance gate turning left. There you can find hundreds of beckoning cats, some of them are inscribed probably by people who returned the cat because their fortune has been fullfilled.