Sunday, October 24, 2010
tanukis, their behavior and the very special tanuki soup
The Tanuki - Japanese racoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus) have been part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absent-minded.
Statues of tanuki can be found outside many Japanese temples and restaurants.These statues often wear big, turtle-shell hats and carry bottles of sake in one hand, and a promissory book or empty purse in the other hand. Tanuki statues always have large bellies.
--> The statues also usually show humorously large testicles, typically hanging down to the floor or ground!! Tanuki may be shown with their testicles flung over their backs like travellers' packs, or using them as drums <--
The tanuki has eight special traits that bring good fortune, possibly created to coincide to the "Hachi" symbol (meaning eight) often found on the sake bottles the statues hold.
The eight traits are: a hat to be ready to protect against trouble or bad weather; big eyes to perceive the environment and help make good decisions; a sake bottle that represents virtue; a big tail that provides steadiness and strength until success is achieved;
--> over-sized testicles that symbolize financial luck <--
a promissory note that represents trust or confidence; a big belly that symbolises bold and calm decisiveness; and a friendly smile
During the Kamakura and Muromachi eras, some stories began to include more sinister tanuki.--> The Otogizoshi story of "Kachi-kachi Yama" features a tanuki that clubs an old lady to death and serves her to her unknowing husband as "old lady soup," an ironic twist on the folkloric recipe known as "tanuki soup." <--
I strongly recommend the whole article: