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Temple Cats, With Attitude



In Japan, neko and temples go together like fish guts and beer, and every graveyard attracts a cadre of cats to guard the departed. At first I tried not to think about what they might be eating to make them so fat and happy (DO NOT GO THERE) until I was lurking around taking pictures late one afternoon, and witnessed the duelling cat ladies. Suffice it to say, these graveyard kittehs’ hunting regimen seems to consist mostly of stalking the wild kibble.

In any case, here they are in all their ornery glory: the few, the proud, the temple cats.

Tubbs of yore
Tubbs of yore
Loafy McLoafcat
Loafy McLoafcat
Souls downloaded while you wait
Souls downloaded while you wait
Gravestone & chill
Gravestone & chill
Oh hai, did you want to use this?
Oh hai, did you want to use this?
Practical cat yoga
Kitteh don’t care
Quittin’ time

If you’d like to visit the kittehs at Gokoku-ji Temple the next time you’re in Tokyo, a map is on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

And just for fun, here are the eleven strangest shrines in Tokyo, with all the inside scoop on the resident gods’ superpowers. Two of them are at Gokoku-ji!

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

10 thoughts on “Temple Cats, With Attitude Leave a comment

    • Ha, you’d think I’d have HUNDREDS – considering how much time I spent shooting video in graveyards this winter – but these temple cats are elusive little buggers!

    • I had no idea they had so much personality until I really started stalking them! You can be sure I’ll be haunting a few cemeteries this fall when I go back to Tokyo…

  1. Before I got my house here I lived with my friend in his closet (it was cozier than you’d think) in Oppama, which is, I learned a Cat Town. He also lived across the street from a sacred tree or shrine, and there were at least eight regular cats who lived there (we named the biggest tabby cat Garfield).

    What’s up with a lot of cats missing half their tails? I’ve noticed that among strays. Either Japanese kitty fights go for tail dismemberment, or it’s some sort of mark…

    • The half tails are a sign they’re native Japanese cats! Dunno why that trait got selected, but they’re born that way. Calico cats with half tails were apparently the gold standard when it came to kittehs in olde Nihon, go figure.

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