Asia / Japan / travel / Travelling / Travels

Toying with Tanuki


Visitors to Japan may see the Tanuki statue outside a multitude of establishments. Cute and funny, the Tanuki doll is a poignant member of many Japanese towns and cities. Their history was not always so benevolent, with many believing Tanuki to be a mischievous shape shifter who would possess people to cause harm and bring misfortune. Centuries later, the lore changed and Tanuki was soon thought of as a trickster, acting in a similar way to the Sirens of Greek mythology. The Tanuki would aim its mystical belly drum music at weary travellers and lead them astray. The symbolism of the Tanuki is carried into Japanese culture today with Tanuki being placed outside of many bars and restaurants, beckoning travellers still to enjoy the fine washoku and sake on offer inside. Tanuki can be found holding a sake flask, wearing a straw hat, and holding a promissory note filled with bills he has never paid. Tanuki is now a symbol of generosity and cheerfulness who encourages diners to share in the pleasures of wine, women and good food.


5 thoughts on “Toying with Tanuki

  1. Pingback: Ch-ch-ch-check it out: L. A. Murphy - - creative writing & other stuff

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