Saturday, September 12, 2009

Discovering Tanuki

Like us, if you were in Japan, you were probably worried and confused about the origins of the above creature. Do not fret, as we have solved the badger mystery! The creature behind those cute, yet creepy statues is called Tanuki (Japanese "raccoon-dog").
Tanuki is a dog, eats a similar diet to a raccoon (Japanese garbage, I guess), climbs trees, doesn't bark, and is the only dog that hibernates. Secretive and non-aggressive it prefers to scream or play dead rather than fight. The Tanuki is reputed to be a master of disguise and “shapeshifting", according to the Japanese. And he also supports ear cleaning, in our newly-acquired bathroom version.Often found greeting guests to Japanese restaurants,,Tanuki statues have a number of important features as shown below:
1) a bamboo hat that protects against trouble, as well as the sun
2) big eyes to help make good decisions - who knew?
3) a sake bottle representing virtue - I knew sake alcohol was virtuous
4) a big tail that provides steadiness and strength
5) over-sized ‘endowments’ that symbolize financial luck - or, perhaps, an infection?
6) a promissory note that represents trust - yet I'm skeptical
7) a big belly that symbolizes bold decisiveness - lest you think it was from the sake
8) a friendly smile - in this case, oddly puckeredSo next time you go to your favourite Japanese noodle restaurant, keep your eye out for a Tanuki.