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Fukui Pref. temple teeming with friendly felines fascinates cat lovers from near and far

A cat is seen among Buddhist statues at Gotanjo-ji temple, known as a "cat temple," in the city of Echizen, Fukui Prefecture. (Mainichi/Kenji Konoha)

ECHIZEN, Fukui -- A "cat temple" in this central Japan city has built a growing reputation for kindness to kitties after decades caring for strays and, more recently, arranging the adoption of more than 300 felines.

At the Gotanjo-ji temple, 10 trainee monks are currently looking after a total of 26 onetime street cats. The temple's cat rescue activities began some 20 years ago when a monk gave water and food to four kittens that were left on the premises.

As the number of cats living at the temple increased to more than 80, Shojun Inawashiro, who became deputy chief monk in 2013, thought that caring for so many felines would become impossible. He then began to put collars on the cats and asked people via the internet if they wanted to adopt one of them.

"I hope all the cats will find good 'foster parents,'" Inawashiro said.

(Japanese original by Kenji Konoha, Osaka Photo Department)

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