Email Site Author Mark Schumacher Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter on Buddhist Statuary spacer
Follow on Social Media
My Wordpress Buddha Statues Blog Follow Me on Facebook Follow Me on Twitter Follow Me on Google + Follow Me on LinkedIn Follow Me on Youtube Free RSS Buddha News Feed 

Japanese Buddhism, Photo Dictionary of Japan's Shinto and Buddhist DivinitiesRETURN TO TOP PAGE of Japanese Buddhist Statuary A to Z Photo Library & Dictionary of Gods, Goddesses, Shinto Kami, Creatures, and DemonsCopyright and Usage PoliciesJump to Our Online Store Selling Handcrafted Statues
top line
spacer


QUICK START
Home: What's New
Buddha's Teachings
History & Timeline
Historical Buddha
Student's Guide
Teacher's Guide

DEITY GUIDES
Who's Who
Buddha
Bodhisattva
Myo-o
Shinto Kami
Shugendo
Stars & Planets
Tenbu (Deva)

OTHER GUIDES
About Site Author
Bibliography
Buddhism in Japan
Busshi Glossary
Carving Techniques
Cycle of Suffering
Drapery/Robe Guide
Mandala Guide
Mudra Guide
Objects Guide
Pilgrimage Guide
Shinto Guide
Statues by Artist
Statues by Era
Symbols Guide
Terminology

Buddhist-Artwork.com, our sister site, offers online sales of hand-carved wood Buddha statues.
Buddhist-Artwork.com, our sister site, offers online sales of hand-carved wood Buddha statues.

A TO Z INDEX
3 Element Stele
3 Monkeys
4 Bosatsu
4 Celestial Emblems
4 Heavenly Kings
5 (Number Five)
5 Elements
5 Tathagata
5 Tier Pagoda
5 Wisdom Kings
6 Jizo
6 Kannon
6 Realms
6 Nara Schools
7 Lucky Gods
7 Nara Temples
8 Legions
8 Zodiac Patrons
10 Kings of Hell
12 Devas
12 Generals
12 Zodiac Animals
13 Butsu (Funerals)
28 Legions
28 Constellations
30 Buddha of Month
30 Kami of Month
33 Kannon
About the Author
Agyo
Aizen
Amano Jyaku
Amida Nyorai
Apsaras
Arakan (Rakan)
Arhat (Rakan)
Ashuku Nyorai
Asuka Era Art Tour
Asura (Ashura)
Baku (Eats Dreams)
Bamboo
Benzaiten (Benten)
Bibliography
Big Buddha
Birushana Nyorai
Bishamon-ten
Bodhisattva
Bonbori Artwork
Bosatsu Group
Bosatsu of Mercy
Bosatsu on Clouds
Buddha (Historical)
Buddha Group
Buddha Statues
Busshi (Sculptors)
Calligraphy
Celestial Emblems
Celestial Maidens
Children Patrons
Classifying
Color Red
Confucius
Contact Us
Daibutsu
Daijizaiten
Daikokuten
Dainichi Nyorai
Daruma (Zen)
Datsueba (Hell Hag)
Deva (Tenbu)
Donations
Dosojin
Dragon
Drapery (Robes)
Early Buddhism Japan
Ebisu
Eight Legions
En no Gyoja
Estores
Family Tree
Footprints of Buddha
Fox (Inari)
Fudo (Fudou) Myoo
Fugen Bosatsu
Fujin (Wind God)
Fukurokuju
Gakko & Nikko
Gardens
Gigeiten
Godai Nyorai
Goddess of Mercy
Goddesses
Gongen
Gravestones
Hachi Bushu
Hachiman
Hands (Mudra)
Hell (10 Judges)
Hell Hag (Datsueba)
Hell Scrolls
Henge
Hikyu (Lion Beast)
Holy Mountains
Ho-o (Phoenix)
Hotei
Idaten
Inari (Fox)
Ishanaten
Ishidoro (Ishidourou)
Jikokuten
Jizo Bosatsu
Jocho Busshi
Juni Shi
Juni Shinsho
Juni Ten
Junrei (Pilgrimage)
Jurojin
Juuzenji
Jyaki or Tentoki
Kaikei Busshi
Kamakura Buddhism
Kankiten
Kannon Bosatsu
Kappa
Kariteimo (Kishibojin)
Karura
Karyoubinga
Kendatsuba
Kichijouten
Kitchen Gods
Kishibojin (Kariteimo)
Kitsune (Oinari)
Kokuzo Bosatsu
Koujin (Kojin)
Komokuten
Korean Buddhism
Koushin
Lanterns (Stone)
Links
Making Statues
Mandara (Mandala)
Maneki Neko
Marishiten (Marici)
Miroku Bosatsu
Monju Bosatsu
Monkeys
Moon Lodges
Mother Goddess
Mudra (Hands)
Myoken (Pole Star)
Myo-o
Nara Era Art Tour
Newsletter Sign Up
Nijuhachi Bushu
Nikko & Gakko
Ninpinin
Nio Protectors
Nyorai Group
Objects & Symbols
Onigawara
Phoenix (Ho-o)
Pilgrimage Guide
Pottery
Protective Stones
Raigo Triad
Raijin (Thunder God)
Rakan (Arhat)
Red Clothing
Reincarnation
Robes (Drapery)
Rock Gardens
Sanbo Kojin
Sanno Gongen
Sarutahiko
Sculptors (Busshi)
Seishi Bosatsu
Sendan Kendatsuba
Seven Lucky Gods
Shachi, Shachihoko
Shaka Nyorai
Shape Shifters
Shichifukujin
Shijin (Shishin)
Shinra Myoujin
Shinto Clergy
Shinto Concepts
Shinto Kami
Shinto Main Menu
Shinto Sects
Shinto Shrines
Shishi (Lion)
Shitenno
Shoki
Shomen Kongo
Shotoku Taishi
Shrines
Shugendo
Siddhartha
Six States
Star Deities
Stone Gardens
Stone Graves
Stone Lanterns
Stones (Top Menu)
Suijin (Water Kami)
Symbols & Objects
Tamonten
Taishakuten
Tanuki
Temples
Temple Lodging
Tenbu Group
Tengu
Tennin & Tennyo
Tentoki or Jyaki
Terminology
Tibetan Carpets
Tibet Photos
Tibetan Tanka
Transmigration
Ungyo
Unkei Busshi
Videos on Buddhism
Water Basin
Weapons
Wheel of Life
Yakushi Nyorai
Yasha (Yaksha)
Zao Gongen
Zen (Daruma)
Zen Art Tour
Zodiac Calendar
Zochoten

 

spacer

MORE ABOUT THE TANUKI
 This is a side page. Return to the main TANUKI page

 

 

Baby Tanuki, photo by Adam Nuelken

Modern ceramic Tanuki statue. Photo from Rakuten J-store http://image.www.rakuten.co.jp/honjo/508737/778474/
Tanuki, modern, ceramic. Sake Kai Tanuki 酒買狸 (lit. Tanuki Procuring Sake). Depicted with big tummy, staff, giant scrotum, straw hat, sake flask, and promissory note. Welcoming icon found frequently outside Japan’s bars and eateries (“come in, don’t be stingy”). Also a wealth-bringing icon adorning gardens. Photo from Rakuten J-store

 

 

Tanuki as appearing in the 1666 Kinmozui
Tanuki standing on hind legs,
from the Kinmōzui 訓蒙圖彙 illustrated Japanese encyclopedia dated to 1666.

The Yamasa Institute, Aichi Center for Japanese Studies
Things Japanese Newsletter, #37, September 15, 2001
yamasa.org/acjs/network/english/
newsletter/things_japanese_19.html


In ceramic form it can be seen everywhere but the real thing is a little more difficult to come across. The tanuki is a rather stout, short-legged creature with a small, bushy tail and is a member of the dog family. Although the tanuki's English name is ”raccoon dog,” it is not a racoon. It is also often confused with the Japanese badger (ana-guma), which is an entirely different animal.

In Japanese folklore the Tanuki has great physical strength and supernatural powers. Like the kitsune (fox), it is a master of shape-changing and disguise and is a mischievous creature taking all sorts of disguises to deceive or annoy travellers. Standing by the road side on its hindlegs, it distends its belly (or rather scrotum) and strikes it with its forepaws. The Tanuki is also depicted in a fox like form, playing crazy and dangerous pranks with its enormous scrotum, which measures eight tatami mats!

Because of its pot belly, the Tanuki is associated with two other figures with large stomachs, the Fugu (blow) fish and Hotei, the fat, God of Luck. It is also said to be linked to the teakettle because of its appearance. The Shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa, was irreverently referred to as Furu Tanuki, old Badger. 'Tanuki-gao' is sometimes used to describe women with rounded facial features. In present day Japan, you will often see a statue of a Tanuki outside a shop or restaurant, beckoning customers to visit the establishment.

In the past, it was hunted in Japan for its meat, its black-brown fur (used for making brushes) and its bones, which were reputed to have medicinal qualities. They were introduced to the western parts of the former U.S.S.R. for fur farming. Some escaped (or were released), and since the 1950s have spread westward into Scandinavia, and south even as far as France.

They live in heavily wooded areas, often close to water eating invertebrates, small animals (frogs, lizards, rodents and ground-dwelling or ground-nesting birds) and (particularly in autumn) seeds and berries. Where they live by the sea, tanuki will also scavenge along the tide line in search of crabs and other marine life that washes up. They are most active soon after sunset throughout the evening, and then again in the early hours of the morning, during which time they may wander for 10 to 20 km in search of food.

As tanuki have moved into suburban and even urban areas in Japan during the 1980s and 1990s, they have taken to feeding at rubbish dumps and are even fed by local people in their gardens, which is one of the reasons why they are associated with raccoons who thrive on the rubbish littering many cities. You are unlikely to see a tanuki during the winter because, though it odesn't hibernate, it puts on weight in autumn and then retreats into its burrow, from November until about April. It may emerge at times to feed, and in the warmer parts of their range, may hardly sleep at all.

The future of the Tanuki is uncertain as many tanuki have become afflicted with sarcoptic mange, a condition caused by a parasitic mite. Infected tanuki suffer from skin deterioration and progressive hair loss leaving them partially, or even entirely, bald. In this state their likelihood of suffering and dying from hypothermia is greatly increased, and since about 1990, many have been found dead during winter. It appears that mange has been able to spread out from suburban areas with high tanuki densities into wilder areas too, leading to serious declines particularly in the Kanagawa and Miyagi prefecture populations. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, mange spread rapidly and the numbers of animals suffering increased greatly.

On the upside the numbers of hunters in Japan declined during the 1980s and in a period of 10 years the number of tanuki killed by hunters halved from a peak of about 75,000 in 1981 to about 33,000 in 1990. This may go some way towards balancing the effect that mange has had on the tanuki population over the past twenty years.

 

Return to the main TANUKI page

spacer
bottom bar

Copyright 1995 - 2013. Mark Schumacher. Email Mark.
All stories and photos, unless specified otherwise, by Schumacher.
www.onmarkproductions.com     |     make a donation

Please do not copy these pages or photos into Wikipedia or elsewhere without proper citation !