A life of courage, joy and independence.
After lunch today my wife told me that I look like the mascot in front of the restaurant. What do you guys think? Is my belly really that bloated?
The Tanuki or “Raccoon Dog” is a well known and very popular character in Japanese art, song and especially children’s literature. Tanuki are, in fact, real animals resembling raccoons in both size and general appearance. The animal’s habitat includes most of the Japanese islands as well as much of central Asia and even parts of Eastern Europe (they have even been spotted in Germany!). The Japanese have long used the image of the Tanuki as a symbol of the dangers of overindulgence in alcohol. A famous and very commonly seen type of Tanuki statue features a pot-bellied male specimen standing on two feet with an empty purse in one hand and an empty jug of sake in the other. The animals genitals are distinctly visible with a rather shrunken penis and grotesquely swollen testes. The message behind this curious image is that an excess of sake will leave one with an empty purse and full libido yet diminished ability to perform. Perhaps this story explains why Tanuki statues are a common sight at the entrance to many Japanese bars and nightclubs.
One of the most famous Tanuki stories tells of how a clever raccoon dog once changed himself into a large iron cooking pot in order to avoid being captured by a hunter. However, after discovering the pot the hunter then took it home to use in cooking his dinner. When the pot was placed over the fire it promptly transformed back into a Tanuki which scampered away into the night leaving the startled hunter in stunned amazement. It is therefore not uncommon to see Japanese art which depicts Tanuki in association with cook pots.