The Tanuki (狸) (Racoon-Dog) is a type of Yōkai which is also a real-life animal.
Folklore says it is a notorious trickster. Later portrayals of the Yōkai depict it with large testicles.
Toriyama Sekien in his work, the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō, depicts the creature on hind legs, drumming its belly, likely in homage to the folktale Shōjōji no Tanuki Bayashi, (The Tanuki Drum Dance at Shōjōji Temple).1
A travel guide from 1810 (Ryokō yōjinshū) says strange occurances caused by tanuki and kitsune are suddenly being lost on the road, it quickly becoming dark, a river appearing where there is none, a closed gate where there was no gate before.4
- View the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō online here: Gazu Hyakki Yagyō Online.
1. Yoda, H. and Alt, M. (2016) “Japandemonium: Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopaedia of Toriyama Sekien.”. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.
2. Yoda, H & Alt, M. (2008) “Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide” Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd.
3. Pfoundes, C. (1878) “The Bewitched Tea-Kettle”. The Folk Lore Record, Vol.1, pp.118-119.
4. Wilson, W. S. (2016) “Afoot in Japan: A Nineteenth Century Guide to Walking the Back Roads” Shambhala Publications Inc.
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