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Meet the lucky cats in suburban Tokyo: Gotokuji Walking Tour

Feel the splendid harmony of traditional and local Tokyo


3.5 hours walking tour of Gotokuji Temple and Shoinjinja Shrine areas in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, where a quiet residential area prospers.
Setagaya Ward, the venue for this tour, is one of the 23 wards designated as a special ward under the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and is a vast area located in the southeastern part of Tokyo including Jiyugaoka and Seijo, which are luxury residential areas. With natural reserves such as parks and valleys overflowing with greenery, this residential area is readily accessible to residents. Access to the city center is also relatively good, and since long ago large corporate executives, prominent sports players, entertainers and others have developed this to be high class area, and people living in Tokyo are often admirers of this area.
After gathering at Odakyu Line Gotokuji Station, this tour will go through the Gotokuji shopping street first and then head towards Gotokuji Temple. There are plenty of attractive shops such as bakeries, cafes, coffee stands, and sweet potato shops in the Gotokuji shopping area, and window shopping while enjoying the local atmosphere and take-out snacks is encouraged.
It is said that Gotokuji Temple is the beginning of the Kotokuin hermitage built by Kira Masatada who built Setagaya Castle in 1480. Originally it was Rinzai sect but in 1584 it became a temple of the Soto sect. There are many sights in the precincts such as the tomb of Ii Naosuke, the greatest authority of the Tokugawa shogunate in the middle of the 19th century, the three-story pagoda, the worshiping of the invincible Kannon, but the most attractive point is the good fortune beckoning cat, known as the “manekineko” to some. This lucky cat, known country-wide, is said to have been “born” here. The sight of 1,000 or more of these “cats” lined up is now one of the landscapes that represents Tokyo. It is said that the lucky cat, familiar to Japanese as a good luck symbol, is the birthplace of Gotokuji Temple. You’ll learn about the origin of the lucky cat in the guide on the day of the tour.
Next, you’ll visit "Setagaya Castle Ruins Park", which is about five minutes away by foot. Setagaya Castle Ruins Park is the only historic park in Setagaya, which opened in 1940, and is designated as a "Tokyo designated city cultural property". Setagaya Castle was selected as one of the 100 Setagaya landscapes with its rich architecture and rich landscapes such as earthen fortifications and old structures that tell of 16th century life. There is also a bench in the park, so if you have purchased snacks or drinks at the shopping street, enjoy it here.
After a break, you will walk for about 10 minutes and go to "Shoin PLAT" near the Shoin Jinja-mae Station on the Tokyu Setagaya line. Shoin PLAT is a two-story commercial facility built by renovating wooden apartment buildings that are over 50 years old. The space is divided into nine small areas, perfect of little shops selling breads, flowers, lifestyle goods, etc. There is a good store and a cafe where you can watch the Setagaya line from above and you can enjoy shopping in the space where many local people gather.
After 5 minutes walking from Shoin PLAT you will arrive at Shoinjinja Shrine. Shoinjinja Shrine was founded in 1882 with the master Yoshida Shoin at center. In the precincts, there are the tombs of Shoka Village school children including Yoshida Shoin, and the building which reproduced Shoka Village school. Mr. Yoshida Shoin, who was born in Hagi City in Yamaguchi prefecture in 1830, built the cornerstone of modern Japan as a spiritual leader of the Meiji Restoration, but it was executed in rest prison by Ii Naosuke, thus putting a close to a short life of 30 years. His philosophy, which is also called “Yamato Damashi (Japanese spirit),” influences the thought and way of thinking of contemporary Japanese people, including Ito Hirofumi, who became Prime Minister of Japan in the first cabinet. It is an interesting point of this area that the Shoinjinja Shrine that enshrines Yoshida Shoin, who ended the era of the samurai, and the Gotokuji Temple, where Ii Naosuke sleeps to protect the era of Samurai, is within walking distance.
At the end of the tour, you can enjoy lunch and shopping at Shoinjinja shopping street which is a short distance from Shoinjinja Shrine. The Shoinjinja shopping district is very attractive, with many stylish cafes and interior shops, with everything from trendy shops to old-fashioned shops that are close to the lives of Setagaya people. It is a pleasant shopping area. Please enjoy the cityscape that is different from the sightseeing spots to your heart's content, getting that feeling that you have joined the local people.


· Strolling around Gotokuji shopping street, where the local atmosphere overflows
· Scenery of Imperial Temple, with more than 1,000 inviting “manekineko” cats
· Heritage in the Buddhist monastery such as the three story pagoda and Ii Naosuke’s final resting place
· Learn about the Meiji Restoration and Mr. Yoshida Shoin’s history at Shoinjinja Shrine
· Have lunch at the Shoinjinja shopping street, and enjoy some shopping too


・Please join us wearing shoes that are easy to walk in because you will walk the mountain paths.
・Tour duration can be extended at a rate of 5,000 yen per group, per hour, payable in cash.
Hotel pickup will incur an additional fee of ¥5,000 per group (for hotels in Tokyo & Yokohama area).

  Price ¥ 7,000

¥7,000 for 2 adults or more
¥9,000 for 1 adult

  Duration 3.5 hour (approx.)
  Hours of availability

Start Time : 10:00 am


・Professional Guide (English, French, Chinese)


・Food & Drinks
・Hotel pick up and drop off

  Participants 1~8 people

Meeting Point

Gotokuji Station (Odakyu Line), ticket gate

Reviews (4)

Sarah N(USA)★★★★★

A charming little tour!

This tour is exactly what I was hoping it would be. We had a great morning with our tour guide Yoshimi exploring the local area of Gotokuji and visiting the Lucky Cat Temple.
We have been to Tokyo before and seek out more off the grid and local experiences when we can. This tour was new to Viator and outside the hustle and bustle of the Tokyo we know, thus why we thought it might be interesting. We are also crazy about the Lucky Cat, so thought this would be fun and lucky to see.
Yoshimi, our tour guide, was so nice, knowledgable, easy to walk and talk with and continually wanted to ensure we were taken care of. She met us at the subway station on this rainy day and we spent 3.5 hours on foot exploring at a slow, relaxed pace the quaint little streets, the local little shops and activity of a regular Saturday for this community which seemed void of most tourists. More shops would most likely be open if you book this tour for the later time versus the 9AM start that we took.
This tour is local, slow paced, focused on the Gotokuji community and exactly what I was hoping for. A simply lovely little morning. Thank you Yoshimi!

Sara M(Italy)★★★★★

Visita con Omakase Tour a Gotokuji, il tempio del Maneki Neko!

Visita del tutto inaspettata, con una atmosfera molto più intima e riservata rispetto ai templi di Asakusa, ma di pari bellezza e intensità.
Davvero brava la mia guida che nonostante la pioggia è riuscita a rendere la visita interessante, la voglio ripetere in un giorno di sole! Assolutamente da non perdere!

Dawn Jamison(USA)★★★★★

Favorite activity in Tokyo

We easily met with our tour guide Yoshi. She is a lovely lady and a most excellently prepared guide. Our tour was a private tour in English with just two of us. Yoshi was very knowledgeable about the area past and present, religious beliefs and customs. Yoshi came prepared with pictures, maps, and other visual aids. She also had bug spray for mosquitos, goto (5 cent pieces) for our donation to the Shinto shrines, and hand towels for the hand-washing ceremony. She assisted getting us back to the metro. This tour set us up to understand the history of Japan and allowed us to enjoy the Tokyo Edo museum and the Tokyo National museum.

Kathryn T(USA)★★★★★

Best time in Tokyo

The tour guide was well prepared and full of information about this area of Tokyo and it place in history. Gave the two of us a better understanding of the development of Tokyo as we know it today.

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  Tour photo