Tanuki Tales

The doorbell rang this morning. It was three kids, I’d say 8 or 9 years old. There was the usual initial shock when they saw my face. It’s not that I’m hideous. I mean, I’m no George Clooney but I’m not Quasimodo either. It’s just that most Japanese people need a moment to collect themselves when they see a foreign face.

Turns out the kids had been playing in the park next door and had tossed a ball over the fence into my garden where it hit a planter and spilled dirt all over one of my tanuki.


The kids had come over to apologize. I told them it was OK and not to worry about it. There was nothing growing in the planter anyway and the dirt didn’t do the tanuki any harm.

Tanuki have an interesting place in Japanese tradition. Although based on an actual animal, the Japanese raccoon dog, which is neither a raccoon nor a dog, they are said to have magical powers. According to Wikipedia, they can shape-shift in order to fool people and make them look stupid.

Most of us don’t need a tanuki to help us in that department.

Photo by 633highland
Photo by 633highland

This is what real tanuki look like. Cute, right?

This guy is almost as tall as me.
This guy is almost as tall as me.

An interesting thing about tanuki statuary is it always has really enormous testicles. These are a symbol of fertility, obviously, but also of financial success.

This guy stands in front of a neighbor’s house.

It’s a big house.

They have an expensive car.

I guess the tanuki did his job.

Apparently, real tanuki are anatomically only what you’d expect them to be. I looked at a lot of pictures on the Interwebs but couldn’t find any tanuki porn, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Any opinions about that? I love to hear from you.

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