The origin of this tradition, celebrated on 29 September and known as 'Maneki-Neko Day', continues to fuel legends. Tama, a thin feline of one of the monks of the temple, is said to have invited Lord Ii Naotaka to join it on Gotokuji's forecourt, thus saving him from lightning that struck the place where he had been standing. The tradition could also have its origins in the suicide of a geisha, who ran a house of tea called The Golden Cat.
In the district of Setagaya, the Gotokuji Buddhist temple is the subject of an omnipresent cult. Indeed, hundreds of statuettes are arranged on the altar dedicated to Maneki-Neko, this benevolent cat who waves with its front paw up as a sign of prosperity. On the altar of Gotokuji, these many statuettes are white, as a symbol of purity, and red, for protection.
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