In Asakusa, only 15 minutes by foot from Sensoji, Imado shrine is famous for matchmaking and maneki neko.
Pray at Imado shrine for a partner
Imado shrine is known among those seeking a partner, luck in their relationship or good business fortune. The shrine used to hold periodical matchmaking events and it is said that if you pray for a good husband or wife, gods Izanami and Izanagi will grant your wish. In fact, in Japanese mythology Izanami and Izanagi are considered the original couple at the beginning of creation.
The shop sells omamori to propitiate romantic encounters and relationship, as well as ema with a couple of cats. There’s also an omikuji that will give you suggestions on how to attract romance and what are the best matches regarding zodiac signs and blood types.
The origin of maneki neko
Although many places around Japan claim to be the place of origin of maneki neko, Imado shrine is proud of its tradition, to the point of having various cat statues scattered around.
Story goes that a woman became so poor she was no longer able to buy food and care for her own cat, so she was forced to give him up. One night, the cat appeared in her dreams, saying that he would have helped her but in return she had to make figurines of him. The woman decided to follow the cat’s suggestion and started to make cat figurines using Imado ware. She later went to a nearby shrine to try and sell them. They were so popular that the woman could get out of poverty very soon.
Of course you can buy maneki neko at Imado shrine, as well as other cat themed amulets and goshuin books.
Cat statues and real cats
There are a lot of cat statues of different sizes, expressions and colors around Imado shrine. And because of the matchmaking popularity, they often go in couples. From what I read, it seems that there are real cats wandering around the area as well.
The white cat is apparently considered an extremely lucky sight – and he was sleeping in the sun on the steps that lead to the main altar. He didn’t seem to be bothered by people, he was just enjoying the warmth. Such a sweet thing!