Tanuki in Japan

Tanuki are fascinating animals in Japan, but contrary to popular belief, they are not raccoons.

On a twitter feed I follow, the author recently posted this video of a tanuki:

Tanuki are a frequent aspect of Japanese folklore, seen as crafty shape-changers who are sometimes helpful, sometimes harmful. Lafcadio Hearn’s famous ghost tale, Mujina, is about a tanuki who terrorizes someone at night. A common trope seen in kids shows and such is that tanuki change shape by placing a leaf atop their head.

… and of course, let’s not forget Tanooki Mario:

My first published adventure for DMS Guild features a rivalry between tanuki and kitsune foxes, too. My kids enjoyed this a lot, and it remains my most popular adventure module sold to date.

Tanuki are great feature of Japanese folklore and encompass a wide spectrum of cultural traits, but as a living species, they are also fascinating as an evolutionary offshoot that researchers are still trying to classify today.

P.S. I have never seen a tanuki myself, despite going to Japan yearly since 2005. I have seen plenty of other interesting fauna though, but that’s a story for another day.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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