Azusamiten Shrine in Tachikawa, Tokyo is a shrine also known for “returning a cat”. Its another name is Neko-gaeshi Jinja which is 猫返し神社（ねこかえしじんじゃ） in Japanese.
Do you have any lost cats that you wish they return home safely? Or do you live with cats and wish for their health? You should definitely visit Neko-gaeshi Jinja if you have a chance to visit Tachikawa. I live with my loving 2 cats and I was so happy to find out about a shrine for cats.
http://www.azusami-suitengu.net/ (Japanese only)
How to access
From JR Tachikawa Station North Exit, take the Tachikawa Bus Line No. 1 “Mitsufuji” / “Hakonegasaki Station（三ツ藤・箱根ヶ崎駅）” bound and get off at the “Sunagawa-yonban” stop. It’s 2 minutes (150m) from the bus station.
It takes about 15 minutes from Tachikawa Station.
Approximately 3.6km from JR Tachikawa Station North Exit Bus Terminal. Use the following address for navigation. 32 Parking spaces are available for free.
Azumisaten Jinja / Tachikawa Suitengu
〒190-0031 Tokyo, Tachikawa, Sunagawacho, 4 Chome−1−1
Brief virtual tour of the shrine
I hope you can get a feeling of what the shrine looks like with a few photos I am about to share. Don’t forget to check out a short video of walking around the shrine I uploaded at the bottom of this article.
You will see this huge sign with the name of the shrine next to the road so it’s hard to miss. Although…. I have been passing by this road for almost a year and didn’t notice the shrine. I guess it’s all about expectation. I wasn’t expecting any shrine to exist on this road, and that’s probably why I didn’t see it. However, if you are looking for this shrine, it will be hard to miss. It’s a huge sign!!
There are two different gates to Azusamiten Shrine. One is from the road side and the other is from the parking lot. But it’s a small shrine, so those two different gates are actually really close to each other.
Gate to the shrine is called “TORII”. You are supposed to bow once facing the main hall before entering the shrine gate.
Inside the shrine
Just like any other shrines, you will find a place where you can purify yourself with water, which is the first thing you should do when you visit a shrine. There is a certain routine you have to follow when you wash your hands. But I am not so familiar with the steps as a foreigner myself. So please make sure you check it out somewhere else before you make any stupid mistakes that foreigners can easily make. 😉
You will find the main hall easily. There is a certain way to offer your prayer with bowing and clapping your hands, but I am not the person to give you the direction. But you will easily find more explanations online!
Just like any other shrines, you can draw “omikuji” for 100 yen. You drop a 100 yen coin voluntarily into a box dedicated fo it and pull one “omikuji” – your fortune. NO ENGLISH AVAILABLE!!! So good luck with translations! 😉 Even if I am fluent in Japanese, it is written in difficult Japanese and I cannot fully understand either. But more or less, I get the meaning.
If you unfortunately draw bad luck, you should tie it to a designated place in the shrine to leave bad luck behind.
“Ema” for returning a cat
There are three different areas where you can hang “Ema” which is 絵馬（えま） in Japanese. “Ema” are small wooden wishing plaques on which you write prayers or wishes. In Azusamiten Shrine, where its another name is Neko-gaeshi Shrine, one of the three areas is dedicated to hanging Ema for Neko-gaeshi.
On these special Ema for “returning a cat”, there were prayers and wishes for missing cats to return home safely, for cats’ health and wellness, etc. Many of them had actually phone numbers and addresses written on Ema. I wish all of them will return home safely. :'(
When there is wind blowing, the sound of wooden wishing plaques bumping into each other is just beautiful. If you watch the video I uploaded at the bottom of this article, you can listen to the sound.
Next to this area dedicated to “returning a cat” Ema, there is a stone statue of cat with orange eyes standing. This cat is really adorable and I can feel that this cat is watching over all the prayers and wishes that are hung there. I didn’t know whether it would be okay to touch the cat, so I didn’t when I was there. But it turns out it is okay to touch the cat. 🙂
There are 32 parking slots just for Azusamiten Shrine and they are all free!! When I went there on a weekday, there were only 2 cars parked there. I don’t know how crowded it will be on weekends, but I recommend you go during weekdays to enjoy quiet and peaceful shrine.
Video of walking around Azusamiten Shrine
I visited the shrine myself and put together a short video of walking around Azusamiten Shrine – “return a cat” shrine. It’s a nice and small shrine so I recommend you visit yourself for a walk on a nice sunny day! But for now, enjoy the video to get the feeling of what it looks like!
If you ever get to visit Azusamiten Shrine in Tachikawa after reading this blog, I would love to get your feedback about what you thought about the shrine. I am hoping to make this blog useful to everyone visiting Tachikawa and your comment can help me improve!