The late Terry Pratchett once said, “In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”
Thousands of years since the last time cats were worshipped as gods in ancient Egypt, the practice has been resurrected in the Far East, particularly Japan.
Located in the old city of Kyoto, Nyan Nyan Ji is a temple opened in 2016 that has since drawn legions of cat-loving tourists.
The Japanese name of the temple literally translates to “Meow Meow Temple” in English.
Unlike most temples where humans devote themselves to their faith, the monks and nuns at Nyan Nyan Ji are rather adorable cats.
The most recognisable face of this feline posse is that of Koyuki, the chief nun, who has a cadre of three female and three male assistants.
She and her assistants wander the premises and hang out with worshippers after they have completed their prayers.
Despite her grumpy face, Koyuki’s owner says that she is friendly and loves playing with her fellow worshippers.
Koyuki is apparently the third generation of cats that have taken up the robes of the head monk of the temple.
Nyan Nyan Ji was opened by an artist named Toru Kaya who built it in honour of his favourite cat.
Befitting a temple run by cats, there are many cat statues and artwork to be found here, together with a feline-themed cafe and a souvenir shop.
While dining at the café, expect the cat assistants to brush against your feet, demanding your attention as cats often do.
So the next time you’re planning a trip to Kyoto, do remember to put this delightful temple on your list of places to visit.