Children playing in the precincts of shrines appear in old tales, but it is rare to see children playing around at a shrine like the one in central Tokyo. In urban shrines, where there are no trees to hide or climb, the only people you see are adults seeking stamps, and the average age of the shrine grounds is very high.
At the Hikawa Jinja Shrine in Shirokane, which I visited this time, there is no place for children to play freely, even though there is a space to park cars on the shrine grounds reached through the torii gate along the street. Naturally, there were no children to be seen on the grounds.
Instead of children playing around, a cat appeared in front of me. It was a cat, wandering around freely, paying no attention to the movements of worshippers in the temple. It seemed to be completely accustomed to humans and did not seem to run away when I approached it. Its majestic behavior made me feel as if it were the master of the temple grounds.
As I wandered around the grounds, I also saw another cat. It seems that there is not only one cat but more than one. Shirokane Hikawa Jinja Shrine is famous for its abundance of cats. And I felt a bit disgusted to learn that the cats are called "platinum cats," which is a play on the name of the place, Shirokane (Shirokane is the same as platinum when written in Chinese characters).
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