Tanuki

Tanuki is the Japanese word used to name the Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus). Tanuki is an important character in Japanese folk beliefs and art. You can see Tanuki statues in front of many temples or restaurants.

Let's mention few basic characteristics that make Tanuki statue easily recognizable. Tanuki is wearing a big straw hat. He is holding bottles of sake in one hand and a promissory note or an empty purse in the other hand. He has a big abdomen and really huge testicles. Tanuki is appearing in many Japanese folk tales. Good example is the story titled “Bunbuku Chagama”. In this story he tricks a monk by transforming into a tea kettle.

Tanuki
Tanuki

According to a Japanese folk belief every Tanuki statue has eight (“hachi”) parts that bring good luck. That is why the “hachi” symbol is engraved on the bottles statue is holding. The straw hat is supposed to protect from bad weather or trouble. Big eyes help in observing the environment and making wise decisions. A sake bottle is symbolizing virtues. A big tail is a symbol of personal stability and strong will in achieving life goals. Financial success is symbolized by huge testicles. A promissory note is the symbol of trust. A big abdomen symbolizes the personal strength needed when making important decisions in life. Finally, it is the friendly smile everyone needs to get easier through everyday life.