Yanaka Ginza in Tokyo is an area that still retains a strong traditional downtown atmosphere. Since redevelopment has not progressed much here, you can see old townscapes with traditional Japanese wooden houses. The surrounding area is also dotted with nature-rich spots for strolling like Yanaka Cemetery and Nezu Shrine.

If you're tired of the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, the Yanaka area is recommended for spending some quiet time while enjoying the lives of the people. Access is also good from Ueno, where many museums are located.

Yanaka has many temples and shrines, and many cats live there, making it also famous as a cat town. The Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street lined with many individual shops has many cat-themed stores and is popular with cat lovers.

In Yanaka Ginza, there are seven wooden lucky cat carvings called the "Seven Lucky Cats". This time, I'll introduce these Seven Lucky Cats in detail. It's said that if you can find all seven, good fortune will come to you. So if you visit Yanaka Ginza, definitely try to find them!

What are the Seven Lucky Cats of Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street?

The Seven Lucky Cats, seven carved wooden cats, are located in the Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street. The shopping street has not only cat-themed sweets and goods shops, but you can find cat motifs everywhere including on signs. Yanaka Ginza's official character is also a cat.

However, only people who are really knowledgeable about this area know about the Seven Lucky Cats.

The Seven Lucky Cats originated from the Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street Promotion Association's desire to have a "symbol of the town." In response to this wish, students at Tokyo University of the Arts, one of Japan's top art universities, created the seven wooden cats in 2009.

The name "Seven Lucky Cats" is derived from the traditional Japanese folk belief of the "Seven Lucky Gods". The Seven Lucky Gods refer to seven deities who bring good fortune.

The Seven Lucky Cats are said to be somewhere in the shopping street, and if you find all seven, good luck will come. Some cats are in hard-to-find places like on rooftops, not just conspicuous locations, so finding them all is surprisingly difficult.

I'll introduce some of them this time, so please use this as a hint for your Seven Lucky Cats search.

Two Big Beckoning Cats

Yanaka Ginza

Among the Seven Lucky Cats, the easiest to find are the two largest ones in beckoning cat poses with one paw raised. There is a cat with its right paw raised and one with its left paw raised side by side.

Maneki-neko, or beckoning cats, refer to a traditional Japanese good luck charm. From their pose with a raised paw, they represent wishes like "beckoning good fortune" and "prosperous business." The cat with the right paw raised is said to "beckon fortune" while the left-pawed cat "beckons people (customers)."

Since the pair are placed on the street, they should be easy to find.

Cat Sitting on a Roof

Source: TripAdvisor

There are also cats you might miss if you only look down along the streets or behind objects. It's said that among the Seven Lucky Cats, there are two on rooftops, and this cat sitting on a roof is one of them. It's a slightly chubby white cat.

The sitting cat is on the roof of Hatsuneya, a deli and tempura shop. Tempura is seafood or vegetables coated in batter and deep fried. Enjoy some reasonably priced tempura while looking up to find the sitting cat.

Hachiware Cat

Source: TripAdvisor

Next, one of the Seven Lucky Cat in front of Kaneyoshien, a tea leaf and pottery shop. It's sitting blending in at the base of a display, so be careful not to miss it. If you look closely, you might be able to find one more nearby.

This cat is characterized by its black and white two-toned pattern. In Japan, cats with this pattern are often called hachiware cats, while in English-speaking countries they are often called "tuxedo cats." This cat's name is "Kuro," meaning black in Japanese.

Must-Visit Shops for Cat Lovers in Yanaka Ginza

There are many recommended shops in Yanaka Ginza to stop by while searching for the Seven Lucky Cats. There are various stores with cat-themed items and sweets with cat motif arrangements. Taking a break at a cat-related café is also recommended.

Whether you love cats yourself or are looking for souvenirs for a cat-loving friend, stop by any shops that catch your eye.

Nuno Fusen

Nuno Fusen
Source: Yanaka Ginza official website

Nuno Fusen deals in miscellaneous goods with cat and dog motifs. Originally it was a shop handling general handmade items. However, as the owner began keeping a cat that wandered in injured, it gradually evolved into a shop focused on cat-themed goods.

The staff are all cat lovers too and enjoy chatting with customers about cats. The store is packed with cat and dog items, so find your favorites. They have items for dog lovers too.

My personal recommendation is their cat-shaped plastic bottle holder. It comes in two sizes to fit 500ml and 270ml bottles. If you find one that matches the size of bottle you regularly use, definitely pick it up.

- Address: 3-11-14 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Irregular holidays
- Phone: 03-5685-6788
- Hours: 10:30-18:00
- Website: https://www.yanakaginza.com/谷中ぎんざ店舗一覧/布風船/

Neco Action

Source: Official website

Another miscellaneous goods shop I want to recommend to cat lovers looking for cat-themed items is Neco Action. You can see many cat goods lining the antique-style Western shelves.

They handle cat-motif stationery, kitchen goods, and accessories. They also have cloth items like hand towels and pouches, interior items like figurines and frames, and t-shirts. Gift wrapping is available too, making items great for presents and souvenirs.

They stock many original products from domestic brands and artists making cat-themed items, so they have many unique goods you won't see much at other stores. My personal recommendation is their ceramic chopstick rests. Definitely find your favorite.

- Address: 3-10-53-10-5 Nishinippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Mondays (open if holiday)
- Phone: -
- Hours: 11:00-18:00
- Website: https://www.necoaction.com/about.html

Recommended Cafes for Cat Lovers

Cafe Nekoemon

Cafe Nekoemon
Source: Official website

Yanaka Ginza also has cafes with cat motifs recommended for cat lovers. One is Cafe Nekoemon. The cafe was created by renovating a traditional Japanese wooden house, giving it a comfortable atmosphere.

Stepping inside the cafe, you'll encounter many cat goods and cat-related menu items. Even the cakes and eclairs are decorated with cat motifs, almost too cute to eat. My personal recommendation is the panna cotta topped with a cat-shaped marshmallow.

At Cafe Nekoemon, you can also experience painting your own beckoning cat, a lucky cat figurine. Why not make your own unique cat figurine while enjoying a drink and painting a ceramic cat with colors and patterns?

- Address: 5-4-2 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Mondays (Tuesday if Monday is a holiday)
- Phone: 03-3821-0090
- Hours: 11:00-18:00
- Website: https://yanakado.com/c_nekoemon.html

Le Prive

Le Prive
Source: Tabelog

Le Prive is a coffee shop with a cat-loving owner. It's a small retro-style Japanese cafe with about four counter seats and four tables. The owner has three cats that freely move between the shop and home.

The cat entrance into the shop is between the sofa seats. There is a small cat-shaped signboard, so don't miss it. The shop cats are elderly, so unfortunately they aren't always at the shop. Visit with a "lucky if you see them" mindset.

The drinks come in cat-motif cups and there are cat goods everywhere, showing the owner's love for cats. I personally recommend the coffee jelly set.

- Address: 1-2-16 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Fridays
- Phone: 03-3823-6254
- Hours: 8:00-19:00
- Reference: https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A131106/13076329/

Recommended Street Food

Yanaka Shippoya

Source: Tabelog

Yanaka Shippoya sells baked donuts in the shape of cat tails. Unlike donuts fried in oil, baked donuts are healthy with a cake-like taste. They use carefully selected ingredients like flour and sugar to make simple, gentle donuts enjoyable for a wide age range from kids to the elderly.

There are many varieties, so look for cat tails that appeal to you visually. A popular item is "Tora", a cocoa dough with white chocolate chips. "Tora" refers to cats with tiger-like stripes. Some donuts have cream inside, and my personal recommendation is the "Kyameru" with caramel cream.

- Address: 3-11-12 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Irregular holidays
- Phone: 03-3822-9517
- Hours: 10:00-18:00 (Mon-Fri), 10:00-19:00 (Sat, Sun, Holidays)
- Official Website: http://yanakashippoya.com/

Ikayaki Yakiya

Source: Tabelog

A street food I want to recommend in Yanaka Ginza is Yakiya. This shop doesn't have cat motifs or opportunities to interact with cats, but you can taste ikayaki, a street food popular in the shopping district.

Ikayaki is originally an Osaka specialty - it's a thin savory pancake with squid inside. Since it's thin, it's more of a snack than a meal.

I especially recommend the menu item "ikasen". Ikasen is ikayaki sandwiched between thin Japanese-style crackers for a unique texture. I particularly like the "cheese ikasen" topped with cheese.

- Address: 3 Chome-13-7 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan
- Closed: Wednesdays
- Phone: +81 3-3823-9717
- Hours: 11:00-19:00
-URL: https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A131105/13107485/

The Seven Lucky Cats, famed to bring good fortune if found, are seven wooden cats. Some cats are placed prominently on the street, some hidden in front of shops, some on rooftops - they are quite varied. Finding them is pretty difficult, so if you're stuck, try asking shop staff in the shopping street. Anyone knowledgeable about Yanaka Ginza will surely tell you.

The Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street has many enjoyable places like street food stalls, cafes, and cat goods shops. Have fun at the shops while taking on the Seven Lucky Cats search challenge!

To explore Yanaka area sightseeing spots, the Yanaka Historical Walking Tour in Tokyo's Old Town is also recommended.

An experienced guide will help you experience Japanese history and culture more deeply along with searching for the Seven Lucky Cats. If you want to stroll around the Yanaka area while getting a local perspective, consider joining a guided tour too.