Translated by Shannon McNaught
Imado Shrine, Find Love at the Home of the Maneki-neko
Written by ochiai keiichi
Pay a visit to Asakusa's Imado Shrine to learn about the birth of the Maneki-Neko and pray that love finds its way to you.
A "maneki-neko" is a cat-shaped figurine that is often bought by travelers in Japan as a souvenir. You can find them anywhere in Japan, but did you know that the birthplace of the maneki-neko is actually in Asakusa?
Today, we'll introduce "Imado Shrine," home of the maneki-neko.
Related article: Japanese Encyclopedia: Maneki-neko (Japanese)
Imado Shrine, the Birthplace of the Maneki-neko
Imado Shrine is about a 15-minute walk from Asakusa Station on Sumidagawa-zoi. Since it's right next to Sensoji Temple, you can easily stop by while sightseeing.
There's a maneki-neko sign in front of the shrine's torii gate. It's relatively easy to find if you look for that.
Maneki-neko were originally made using the Imado-yaki pottery-making technique (*1). Why were these cat-shaped figurines made here in the first place, though? This is the story that can be found in Imado Shrine.
A long time ago, there lived in Asakusa an old woman with a cat. The old woman was so poor that she had to part with her cat. On the day that she abandoned her crying cat, it appeared in the old woman's dream and said to her,
"Turn me into a doll. Then you'll be happy."
The old woman did as she was told and made a doll that then became widely popular. With the money given to her for the dolls, she was able to rise out of poverty.
That is how the maneki-neko came to be in Asakusa.
*1…There are many other stories about the maneki-neko's birth.
Meet Tons of Cats Inside
There are many cats wandering around Imado Shrine, the birthplace of the maneki-neko. The overcrowded maneki-neko figurines within the shrine is a sight unique only to Imado Shrine.
You'll even come across a real cat sometimes. It's a bit funny to see the real thing next to the dolls.
It's Not Just for Maneki-neko! Imado Shrine is an En-musubi Shrine
Japan's first married couple "Izanagi" and "Izanami" are enshrined at Imado Shrine. They are widely known as gods of en-musubi (*2).
After you're done perusing all of the maneki-neko, try your hand at praying for a potential partner.
*2…Related to the destinies or relationships between people, especially between lovers.
Related Article: The Correct Way Of Praying At A Shinto Shrine
Don't Forget to Buy Your Maneki-neko Souvenirs
You can buy maneki-neko pretty much everywhere, but you can also buy them at their birthplace, Imado Shrine. Fortune will surely come your way by purchasing it at the product's place of origin.
There are also many ema tied around the area. Of course, there are ema with maneki-neko designs. You should definitely write your wishes on one of these ema before returning home.
Related Article: Make your wish at a shrine! How to dedicate Ema