Cats have long held a special place in Japanese mythology and culture! In Japan; cats are seen as good luck charms and are believed to bring prosperity and happiness to their owners. They are also revered as sacred animals – with many temples and shrines dedicated to their worship.

The Good Luck Charm of Maneki-neko: The Beckoning Cat of Japan

One of the most well-known cat deities in Japanese mythology is the goddess “Maneki-Neko – also known as the “Beckoning Cat.” She is often depicted holding a koban – an ancient Japanese coin, and she is believed to bring good fortune and wealth to those who own her.

Maneki-Neko statues can be found in many homes, businesses, and temples throughout Japan and are thought to bring good luck!

The Healing Powers of Tama: The Cat-God of Japanese Mythology

Another famous cat deity in Japanese mythology is the cat-god Tama! According to legend – Tama was a white cat living in a Kyoto shrine. He was known for his ability to bring good luck and prosperity to those who visited the shrine. Tama was also believed to have the power to heal the sick ones and protect people from harm.

Today, Tama is still revered in Japan, with many temples and shrines dedicated to his worship.

maneki neko with koban
Maneki Neko with Koban

The Mischief and Chaos of the Bakeneko: Japan’s Legendary Cat Spirit

Cats have also played a significant role in Japanese folklore and legend. One famous tale is the story of the “Bakeneko,” a cat spirit that can transform into a human-like creature.

Legend has it: A Bakeneko is a cat that has lived for a long time and gained magical powers. Baneko is said to be able to take on human form and even speak human languages. Bakeneko is often depicted as mischievous and trickster-like creatures – causing a lot of chaos and mischief wherever they go.

The Symbolism of Cats in Japanese Literature and Proverbs

Besides – Cats have also played a role in Japanese literature – with many famous writers and poets using cats as symbols and metaphors in their works. One example is the famous Japanese Poet Basho; who wrote the famous Haiku “The old cat, Licking her tail, Dreaming of mice.”

This Haiku speaks to the timeless nature of cats and their innate predatory instincts.

Japanese Traditional Ghosts - Yōkai
Illustration of Japanese Traditional Ghosts – Yōkai

In Japan, cats are also seen as symbols of independence and self-sufficiency. This is reflected in the popular saying “Neko ni koban,” which means “a small fortune for a cat.” This saying suggests – even a small amount of wealth is enough for a cat to live a comfortable and independent life.

Omatsu Daigongen Shrine

Located in the city of Omatsu in Japan, the famous Omatsu Daigongen Shrine is a unique and fascinating place – that is dedicated to the worship of cats. It is the oldest cat shrine in whole Japan, with a history dating back more than 1,000 years.

The Omatsu Daigongen Shrine is a small, peaceful place surrounded by beautiful gardens and trees. Visitors are greeted by the sight of dozens of Maneki-Neko statues – all of which are believed to bring good fortune and prosperity! The shrine features a beautiful stone pathway – leading up to the main altar, where visitors can pray and make offerings to the cat deities.

The Maneki-Neko statues, the Omatsu Daigongen Shrine is also home to many real cats. These cats are treated with great care and respect, and are believed to be the incarnations of the cat deities that are worshipped at the shrine. You as a visior are encouraged to interact with the cats and offer them treats and gifts, as it is believed that doing so will bring good luck and prosperity!

The Omatsu Daigongen Shrine is not only a place of worship – but it´s also a popular tourist destination. Visitors from all over Japan and the world come to this shrine to experience the Unique Atmosphere and learn more about the role of cats in Japanese culture and mythology.

Many people also visit the shrine to pray for good luck and prosperity or to make offerings to the cat deities in the hopes of receiving blessings.

Omatsu Daigongen Cat Shrine
Omatsu Daigongen Cat Shrine

Next to its historical and cultural significance – the Omatsu Daigongen Shrine- is also a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. The serene atmosphere and beautiful gardens make it a perfect place to relax and escape the stresses your daily life.

Whether you are a cat lover or just interested in Japanese culture and mythology, the Omatsu Daigongen Shrine is definitely worth to visit.

“Cats as Symbols of Independence in Japanese Culture”

Cats have a rich and enduring place in Japanese mythology and culture. From the revered cat deities of Maneki-Neko and Tama to the mischievous Bakeneko of folklore, cats have long been seen as good luck charms and symbols of prosperity and happiness in Japan.

Whether as companions, deities, or symbols of independence, cats will always hold a special place in the hearts and minds of the Japanese people.

Read more about the Japanese and their Relation to cats here: The Japanese and their Relationship with Cats. A Story of Love, Superstition and Horror.


Marco Heitner

Hello, my Name is Marco. My family has had pets since I can remember. Today we have a large aquarium and, since recently, a four-month old Labrador. I am the owner of this website, and it is my great pleasure to provide helpful knowledge about pets. Our team is constantly working hard to publish well-researched reports here.


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