Cats are an often recurring theme in old Tokyo as one of the features to define shitamachi. In particular Yanaka is famous for having many cats running, sleeping and playing on the streets. It is dubbed cat town and has put a focus on its furry inhabitants through its shops, cafes and statues.
Throughout Yanaka Ginza there are seven carved wooden cats called the 7 lucky cats (七福猫), placed there in 2008 to wish for everyone’s happiness. The cats are quite lifelike and are placed on a roof, near stores, and add to the character of Yanaka. As an extra treat, you can eat many types of cat themed snacks, from taiyaki shaped as a cat to cat tail donuts. You can taste these sweets while strolling around Yanaka Ginza.
It is thought that so many cats live in this area due to the high density of temples and greens, in particular due to the huge Yanaka Cemetery. During the busy hours of the day in Yanaka Ginza it might be difficult to spot the cats themselves though. The best bet to get a glimpse of the cats is to go and wander around the graves in Yanaka Cemetery. The cats feel right at home in this peaceful environment. Many of the cats allow you to approach them and pet them. Please note there are signs that ask you not to feed the cats.
Cat themed shop in Yanaka.
Stone cat behind a bicycle.
Cat figures in one of the shops in Yanaka.
Cat themed cafe
Beware of the cats!
Cat at Yanaka Cemetery
Cat sleeping at Yanaka Cemetery