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Tanuki – The Raccoon Dog

The Tanuki or Raccoon dog is famous in Japan as a symbol of protection from fire and theft and is said to be able to help businesses flourish. They are also know as very mischievous and fun loving creatures and as a result you will often find statues of them outside bars and restaurants. Some people even have them at the entrance to their homes for protection.

The formal name for the Tanuki is Otanuki-sama which translates to “Sir Raccoon Dog” and the origin on the name dates back to 1872 when a steward at the Sensoji Temple in Askakusa got permission to enshrine a statue of the animal in his garden with the intent of protecting it from the mischievous antics of the animals that had taken up residence in the area.

Festival rites are conducted at the shrine on March 16th and 17th every year.

Photo Credit: Personal Collection