If you’re visiting Japan and want to see a part of Japan that’s not filled with the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and Osaka, then you should make a trip to the west of Japan to Fukui. Nestled away on the east side of Japan in Echizen, Fukui is a mid-sized cat temple open to religious visitors and cat-lovers alike. The temple, Gotanjoji Temple (後誕生寺), has about 10 cats roaming outside or sleeping at one time, and they are quite used to people. You can buy souvenirs and other temple trinkets, or you can sit and relax while a sleeping cat purrs on your lap. There is a small building for the canon of the temple, a temple bell and a place for temple omikuji (fortunes) and ema (wooden blocks with pictures on one side) so that you can write your wishes.
Even though I’m not what you would call a “cat-person,” I enjoyed photographing the cats, watching them sleep and finding little mischievous cat paw prints in the snow. Most of the cats are old and/or slightly ill, but they seem to love visitors and being fed cat treats. When you visit, you can tell there are some people who visit regularly and you can even see old pictures visitors took and drew of the cats.
If you’re ever in that area for the nearby cafe called Oedo+ or the washi (paper) village, you should take a detour to the cat temple.